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MLS Stats Zone: No Messi, no problem for Inter Miami

With two rounds of Major League Soccer games with the MLS Cup Playoffs on the horizon, it was a big opportunity for Lionel Messi to help Inter Miami make up ground. The World Cup winner got injured, but his teammates didn't miss a beat.

Miami is in 13th place and has six matches left to play with five points separating them from a playoff spot in a jam-packed Eastern Conference. 

They lost 5-2 to sixth-placed Atlanta in a match where Messi did not play due to Atlanta United's home field being made of artificial turf.

He returned when Inter Miami hosted rock-bottom Toronto FC but lasted just 37 minutes before he was subbed off with an injury concern that has yet to be confirmed.

It didn't matter. His teammates picked up the slack as they went on to win 4-0, scoring four on 1.4 expected goals.

Robert Taylor, who has thrived ever since he started receiving passes from Messi, continued thriving without him as he scored twice from 0.3 total xG in the match.

Benjamin Cremaschi, the 18-year-old midfielder who recently made his USMNT debut, also scored a goal on his only shot which was worth 0.2 xG.

Facundo Farias, a 21-year-old Argentine winger, beat both of them. His goal - his only shot of the game - was a 0.1 xG chance.

Sergio Busquets won five tackles, only beaten by 19-year-old Argentine center back Tomas Aviles, who won six.

Goalkeeper Drake Callender, another recent USMNT debutant, saved the two shots on target he faced. He saved 0.6 post-shot expected goals, meaning the shots he saved amounted to an xG of 0.6.

Elsewhere around the league: A Galaxy of goals

The LA Galaxy's last two matches have been high scoring affairs. They lost 4-2 to Los Angeles FC in 'El Trafico' but bounced back to win at home against Minnesota United 4-3.

Sheffield United legend Billy Sharp was clinical, scoring a hat-trick on 1.5 xG. Barcelona academy product Riqui Puig was the opposite: he didn't score but posted 1.0 xG on six shots.

The fact both LAFC and Minnesota outscored their xG does not reflect well on goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, formerly of Watford in England. LAFC scored four on 1.5 xG and Minnesota scored three on 1.3 xG.

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