- Messi misses Atlanta clash
- Lalas slams lack of transparency
- Messi set to return vs Toronto
WHAT HAPPENED? Former USMNT defender Lalas has expressed his belief that both Inter Miami and MLS need to be more "open" about whether or not Messi will feature in games, as fans scramble for tickets to witness one of the greatest players to have ever lived in action. MLS commissioner Don Garber has insisted that he cannot "force any team or player to do what is not in the best interest, health and safety of the player", but Lalas is adamant that supporters should be kept in the loop.
WHAT THEY SAID: "That is a little bit disingenuous, that is a bit simplistic and that is a little bit naive when it comes to Major League Soccer and what Don Garber, as the commissioner, has done with Messi," the former USMNT star said on the Alexi Lalas' State of the Union Podcast.
"They have used Messi since the moment it was announced to sell and to hype absolutely everything both on and off the field. I think that, whether it's Inter Miami or MLS, if they have information and he is not going to play, they need to make it very clear.
"Especially before using Messi for all this soccer promotion. I think it's important and I think it's vital for fans, teams and media to know. It is the clubs responsibility to do everything to inform but also from a competitive stand point, Inter Miami have to do everything to make the playoffs. Be open and be honest with everybody."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The uproar from Lalas arrives after Messi did not travel with the squad for their clash against Atlanta United last week, which ended in a 5-2 defeat for Gerardo Martino's men. Many supporters were left disappointed by Messi's absence, with ticket prices soaring as MLS continues to attract a wider audience thanks to the World Cup winner's presence.
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IN PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty
WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? Messi has since returned to Inter Miami training and is in line to feature against Toronto FC, after muscular fatigue kept him out of the clash with Atlanta, but will face a late fitness test.
Speaking on the fitness of Messi and other players within his squad ahead of Toronto, Martino said: "Messi and Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that we'll see if they're available to play and to what extent."