Lionel Messi missed his third straight game for Inter Miami, but his team was still able to salvage a draw against New York City FC on Saturday night.
The 36-year-old Messi has sat out the team’s previous two games, including Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final loss to the Houston Dynamo, due to a “scar tissue” problem, according to head coach Tata Martino.
Inter Miami appeared on track for its first back-to-back losses since Messi’s arrival when New York’s Santiago Rodríguez scored to put them up 1-0 in the 77th minute, but 19-year-old center back Tomás Avilés, another Argentinean national, scored in stoppage time to even the score.
Inter Miami has not revealed the severity of the injury that has kept Messi out of the lineup since being substituted off in the 37th minute during a Sept. 20 match against Toronto.
The team has been criticized for their secrecy around his health — not to mention how it’s affected fans and sold tickets — but Martino isn’t one to give up details that could help opponents.
“You’re talking about the best player in the world, and I have to divulge something that could modify our opponent’s game plan,” he said this week. “Why give that information if I can keep it to myself?”
Messi returned to training Friday but was not listed in Inter Miami’s starting 11 or on the bench as they continue to chase one of the nine MLS Cup playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit in 14th place and five points behind the final playoff spot, which is occupied by NYCFC.