MLS

Messi absence forces Martino apology for disappointed Vancouver crowd

By Sports Desk May 26, 2024

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez all did not travel for Inter Miami's 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps, leading head coach Gerardo Martino to apologise.

The former Barcelona trio were expected to feature for the Eastern Conference leaders on Sunday, but were rested as Martino's side triumphed thanks to goals from Robert Taylor and Leonardo Campana.

Vancouver's BC Place was expecting a larger than usual home crowd to greet the global superstars, though Whitecaps Axel Schuster apologised once the hosts got wind of Messi's absence.

With Martino subsequently leaving Messi and his former Blaugrana stars at home, the Miami boss felt it necessary to offer his apologies to the expectant Vancouver crowd.

"Obviously it is very important for us because of the absences we had," Martino said after the victory that made it 10 unbeaten games for Miami. 

"The expectation that people have. I really don't think I have to apologise, but in some ways we are very sorry for not being able to travel with our stars.

"There is a question, we have or have come without our great players. Leo, Luis, Busi, Diego Gomez and still we have competed very well."

Schuster and the Whitecaps had previously echoed Martino's apologetic sentiment on Thursday when news emerged of their absence.

"We know that there will also be a lot of disappointed fans," Schuster said in a statement released by Vancouver.

Disappointment followed on the pitch as Vancouver slipped to six straight MLS matches without victory.

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