Miami’s Martino shuts down Gillette turf concerns; Messi fit

Inter Miami CF head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino shut down artificial turf doubts when confirming the availability of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez for selection against the New England Revolution on Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

“The players are all available, and those who are healthy will travel. We will see the formation to face the New England Revolution a little later,” Martino said during a Friday news conference. “We previously played on artificial turf at Charlotte last year and had no problem.”

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Messi formed part of the Inter Miami side that took on Charlotte FC on Bank of America Stadium’s turf. Messi played the entirety of the game in the 1-0 loss. The Argentine striker had reaffirmed his disposition to play on any field during his introductory news conference last summer.

“The truth is my youth was spent on artificial turf, my whole life was on that pitch,” Messi said at his 2023 news conference after joining the club. “Truth is it’s been a while since I’ve played on artificial turf, but I have no problem adapting myself again.”

New England said Friday that it expects to set a new single-game attendance record for the club on Saturday. An expected sellout crowd will exceed the 61,316 fans who attended the 2002 MLS Cup final between the Revolution and the LA Galaxy.

New Miami signing Matías Rojas will also be available to start, as well as Robert Taylor and Leo Campana, who recently recovered from injury. Jordi Alba, however, is to remain on the sideline for another week.

“Matias Rojas forms part of the roster and will travel with the team to face New England Revolution. But Jordi Alba will not travel. I said last week that he wouldn’t be available against the Revolution, but starting next week we will monitor him game by game,” Martino said.

“Since the season started, we’ve been dealing with injury concerns. The last one to fall was Diego [Gómez]; obviously it’s been at different times and the evolution of each player is different, but this week we have the possibility to bring back Robert Taylor and Leo Campana, who will form part of the roster traveling to New England. And next week, we will begin monitoring the situation with Jordi and Federico Redondo.”

The upcoming stretch of games before Copa América kicks off on June 20 is vital for Inter Miami. The head coach emphasized the importance of racking up points before players depart to join various participating national teams.

“Twenty-four points [from this stretch of games before Copa América] would make me happy, but it’s difficult to calculate things in that way,” he said. “All games are important, and we play away a lot.

“The best thing that happened was recovering well after the elimination against Monterrey. The team managed two league victories, and we have a good amount of points.”

The Herons currently lead the Eastern Conference table with 18 points in 10 games and a 5-2-3 record.