MLS: Minus Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Inter Miami visit Whitecaps

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Inter Miami will be playing without Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets when they travel to visit the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

All three former FC Barcelona stars are healthy but will be rested for the first of three games during an eight-day stretch for Miami (9-2-4, 31 points), which enters the weekend with a one-point lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

The news of the trio’s absence came late Thursday before the Whitecaps released a statement to alert fans. Miami coach Tata Martino confirmed the news on Friday.

Those absences could pave the way for striker Leonardo Campana to score for a second consecutive match. The Ecuadorian entered as a late substitute and scored in last weekend’s 1-0 win over D.C. United, and should be in line to start with Suarez out.

Campana has scored three times this season in a reduced role scoring nine times in 2023 and 11 in 2022 as a starter.

“This is about perseverance and today it was up to me,” he said after his goal last Saturday. “I am going to keep adding minutes, keep making history, doing what I love and keep contributing goals, which is what I was brought here for.”

The Whitecaps (5-4-4, 19 points) are winless in their past five. They got a penalty kick from Ryan Gauld in second-half stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw at the Seattle Sounders in their previous outing last Saturday.

Four of those past five games have come on the road, an environment that has forced coach Vanni Sartini to adopt a more conservative approach.

The Italian is hopeful that can change back at BC Place, although the Whitecaps have earned three of their five wins on the road.

“What I like is to control the game, to have the ball, to play, so what we need to do is to be as aggressive as we can,” Sartini said this week before the news about Messi and others broke. “As aggressive, as offensive, pressing high, to really, I would say create a lot of problems. Frustrate them and then try to be in charge of the game.”

–Field Level Media

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