MLS: Lionel Messi and Co. return as Miami hosts Atlanta United

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Inter Miami are expected to welcome back superstar Lionel Messi and fellow former FC Barcelona teammates Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets on Wednesday night when they host skidding Atlanta United in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Herons (10-2-4, 34 points) overcame the trio’s planned absence due to rest purposes on Saturday when they ran their unbeaten streak to 10 matches (7-0-3) with a 2-1 victory over the host Vancouver Whitecaps.

Robert Taylor, who replaced Messi in the starting lineup, collected a goal and an assist and Leo Campana tallied for the second time in as many matches for Miami on Saturday.

“I am very proud of the performance by our players,” Herons coach Tata Martino said, per the Miami Herald. “It was a very important win for us because it was a very difficult game in which we had to run a lot, work a lot, suffer a lot.

“It’s a very valuable three points for us because of the absences we had, and the expectations people had. This win was a just prize for the great job our players did.”

Suarez entered play Wednesday tied for second in the MLS with a team-leading 11 goals, one ahead of Messi.

While Miami is riding high on its unbeaten streak, Atlanta (3-7-4, 13 points) saw its winless drought extend to nine matches (0-5-4) following a 1-0 home setback to Los Angeles FC on Saturday. Atlanta has been blanked in five league matches this season.

“Watching from the sidelines, it was good to see just everyone giving 100 percent and just unlucky with the goal,” Atlanta United defender Derrick Williams said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think … when things aren’t going your way, they really don’t go your way.”

Leading scorer Giorgos Giakoumakis (club-best five goals) sat out versus LAFC because of a hamstring injury. His availability for Wednesday’s match remains to be determined.

–Field Level Media

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