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MLS: Is Messi playing this week against Colorado?



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Mark Keast

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MLS: Is Messi playing this week against Colorado?

What’s the update on Inter Miami CF’s Lionel Messi, around which much of Major League Soccer betting revolves? The news broke late Friday afternoon: Lionel Messi is available to play for Inter Miami Saturday night against Colorado after a long stint on the injury list.  

Miami hosts Colorado tomorrow in MLS action, at 7:30 p.m, and all MLS games in Canada are available on MLS Season Pass available on Apple TV. After seven games, Miami is at 3-2-2, good for 11 points and second place after Cincinnati (3-0-3-12 points) in the Eastern Conference. Colorado sits in seventh place in the Western Conference after six games – 2-2-2-8.

We’re only one month into the season, but already Messi’s absences due to injury has been an obvious storyline. Head coach Tata Martino has a long list on injuries he is dealing with in Miami. With Messi, it’s a right hamstring issue, going back a month, which kept him out Wednesday as Miami lost 2-1 to Monterrey in the first leg of the team’s Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal. The team is looking to secure its second trophy since Messi joined the squad in 2023. According to reporting he was training this week, which is good news.

Messi has three goals in three MLS games this season. He had a goal and an assist in his last MLS game, a 3-1 win over Nashville on March 13. Lewis Morgan of New York Red Bulls leads the league with six goals. 

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After the game this week, Martino reiterated the team’s line, according to ESPN reporting: “Like we said, he’s game to game. This is how we’ll approach the match against Colorado [on Saturday] and the second leg against Monterrey. Every day he feels better, but today felt like too high a risk.”

Luis Suarez has helped filled the void – named MLS Player of the Month for February and March 2024 (thanks to five goals, tied for second most in the league, and three assists).

With the uncertainty surrounding Messi, for the sports betting crowd, Inter Miami has seen the most notable line movement at BetMGM for MLS league winner  – 3.00 opening, 3.50 current day. Columbus Crew are up there as well – 13.00 to 11.00. Miami is generating the highest ticket percent (15.6%), followed by Columbus (14.1%) and FC Cincinnati (9.9%). On the handle side its Cincinnati (16.3%), Miami (14.6%) and Columbus (12.5%).

Vancouver Hosts Toronto for an All-Canadian Showdown 

On the Canadian MLS front, the Vancouver Whitecaps have the shortest odds there, 29.00 (0.7%, 0.1%), followed by CF Montreal at 41.00 (0.6%, 0.1%), and Toronto FC at 67.00 (3.6%, 2.6%).

Besides Miami and Colorado, games we recommend this weekend – LAFC versus LA Galaxy, tomorrow 7:45 p.m., for a crosstown rivalry; Seattle Sounders hosting CF Montreal, tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. EST, with Montreal wrapping a six-game road trip, playing well this season (a must-win for Seattle); Sporting KC versus Portland Timbers, 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, the Timbers playing sluggishly after a hot start, looking to work in new DP forward Johnathan Rodriguez; while TFC is in Vancouver to play the Whitecaps tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. EST, a team that sits second in the Western Conference, having a fine season to date.

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TFC has been the most pleasant surprise early this season (5th in the East, after six games, 3-2-1, for ten points) but got some tough news earlier in the week when it was announced that Lorenzo Insigne was going to be out for six weeks as he nurses a hamstring injury. Saturday night is a big game for them to show the world they’re a legit team without the Italian star striker and highest-paid player (second in the MLS after Messi). A “huge blow” is how TFC coach John Herdman described it. Insigne has scored twice this season, both game winners, that were named MLS goal of the week. 

At BetMGM, despite the absences, Messi is still the second most bet (tickets), at 4.75, to finish as MLS top goal scorer (behind Juan Hernandez of the Columbus Crew at 21.00). 

According to DraftKings, the Whitecaps are betting favourites at 1.47 over TFC (6.00, draw 4.30). Inter Miami (1.87 to 1.80 after the Messi news) are the betting favourites over Colorado (3.60 to 3.85), with odds for a draw at 3.80. 

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Mark Keast

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