D.C. United vs. Inter Miami CF Pick & Prediction MARCH 16th 2024

Inter Miami are expected to return to MLS action without superstar Lionel Messi on Saturday afternoon when they visit D.C. United in Washington.

Messi collected a goal and an assist before exiting in the 50th minute with a glute injury in Miami’s 3-1 victory over Nashville SC on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Herons sealed a spot in the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals, where they will face either FC Cincinnati or Mexico’s Monterrey.

As for Saturday’s match, Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said he plans to exercise caution with the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“I don’t want to risk it, but I imagine that for Saturday’s game, he is not going to be available,” Martino said. “We’ll have an evaluation and see some imaging, and we will see how he progresses.”

Should Messi sit out Saturday, it would mark his second consecutive MLS match that he has missed. Messi, 36, also sat out last weekend’s 3-2 loss to CF Montreal.

Luis Suarez, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate, has two goals in his first season with Inter Miami (2-1-1, 7 points). Robert Taylor replaced Messi on Wednesday and scored in the 63rd minute versus Nashville.

D.C. United (1-0-2, 5 points) erupted for five goals over their first two matches before playing a scoreless draw against Cincinnati on Sunday.

Alex Bono, who made seven saves for D.C. United, already is preparing to miss out on the Messi experience on Saturday.

“There are certain players that come into the league that are your memory games,” Bono said, per the Washington Post. “I was fortunate to go up against Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), (Frank) Lampard, (Andrea) Pirlo and (David) Villa — guys with big names and impressive resumes. You remember those games forever. Eventually we’ll get Messi. Maybe Saturday is just not the day.”

Christian Benteke recorded a hat trick in D.C. United’s 3-1 win over the New England Revolution in the season opener on Feb. 24.

Benteke, who has missed the team’s last two matches due to injury, scored in the 90th minute of D.C. United’s 2-1 win over Inter Miami last June. D.C. United and Miami also played to a 2-2 draw in July.

–Field Level Media

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