The Argentine maestro had missed Miami’s last two games, including the United States Open Cup final loss to Houston Dynamo, with manager Tata Martino putting his absence down to fatigue.
Messi was taken off the pitch in the 37th minute of the clash against Toronto, raising concerns about his fitness – although his teammates ensured his absence wasn’t felt after rallying to a 4-0 victory.
Miami secured a 1-1 draw in the subsequent fixture against Orlando City, but Martino opted against risking Messi in the 2-1 defeat to Houston in their last outing.
Messi’s fitness has been under the microscope, with the Miami medical team monitoring the 36-year-old’s condition ahead of his return to first-team training.
His return has raised optimism about his participation in the home clash against New York, but his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba will sit out the weekend encounter as he continues to nurse a hamstring problem.
Messi accumulated 600 minutes of first-team football last month, setting a new record for his monthly playing time since departing Barca four years ago.
Despite his recent absence, Martino remains optimistic about his star player’s return before the end of the season, with Miami striving to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Since joining Miami last summer, the World Cup winner has been in exceptional form, racking up 11 goals and five assists in 12 appearances.
Messi’s arrival also catapulted Miami’s ticket prices, which now cost nearly double their initial valuation since the Argentine arrived in the United States.
After Saturday’s fixture, Miami will travel to Chicago on October 4 before hosting FC Cincinnati three days later before next month’s international break.
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