(Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi won't play Saturday at Atlanta United FC and he didn't travel with the team, multiple outlets reported.
Messi had national team duty for Argentina in South America recently and was in Bolivia on Tuesday, even though he wasn't named to the team for the match.
Miami coach Gerardo Martino told reporters Friday that there isn't anything wrong with Messi but that the club needed to choose wisely when it came to using the 36-year-old as it makes a push toward the playoffs.
"We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span," Martino said.
This is a busy stretch for Inter Miami, who host Toronto on Wednesday and travel to Orlando on Sept. 24, then have two more matches to close out the month.
Messi has more national team obligations in October, too.
"This is something that we knew would happen at some point, but that he would begin to get used to our needs, especially for seasons like this with a lot of matches," Martino said of the possibility of building breaks into the schedule for Messi.
"Playing each match, 90 minutes each game, two to three days with travel in between, would get difficult."
Messi's absence is sure to disappoint the 72,000 fans expected to pack Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to watch the legendary player.
There has been speculation -- but no confirmation -- that Messi could be missing the match because of the turf field in Atlanta. Many have pointed to the turf field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as the cause of the torn Achilles tendon that will sideline New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season.
Miami enters Saturday's match six points out of a playoff berth with eight contests left.
--Field Level Media