Messi's MLS regular-season debut delayed, likely until Aug. 26

AP , Wednesday 9 Aug 2023

MLS fans will have to wait a little longer for Lionel Messi’s first regular-season match with Inter Miami CF.

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring his side s third goal against Orlando City during the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Miami’s Aug. 20 match against Charlotte FC would have been Messi’s first in MLS play, but it was postponed to an unspecified date after both clubs advanced to the Leagues Cup quarterfinals.

Inter Miami will face Charlotte in the quarterfinals Friday at DRV PNK Stadium. One of the two clubs will play in either the final or third place match on Aug. 19.

Messi’s first MLS match now is expected to be Saturday, Aug. 26, at the New York Red Bulls.

Messi will also compete in the US Open Cup on Aug. 23 when Miami visits MLS-leading FC Cincinnati for a semifinal match.

Messi scored on another free kick in last week’s round of 16 elimination game against Dallas. The tying goal led to a victory on penalty kicks and gave Messi his third consecutive two-goal game for Inter Miami.

The World Cup champion’s goal in the 85th minute was reminiscent of the game-winner in his Inter Miami debut. Both were on free kicks from just outside the penalty box in the waning moments, each sneaking past the goalkeeper into the upper corner of the net.

Messi has scored in all four matches for Inter Miami, with seven goals total. His new U.S. club is 4-0 — all in the Leagues Cup — after going winless in nine consecutive MLS matches before the 36-year-old arrived.

Messi, seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, the soccer world’s most prestigious individual award, signed with Miami last month after two years with Paris Saint-Germain. In a career spanning more than 17 years with Argentina’s national team, Messi has scored more than 100 goals.

He signed for 2 1/2 seasons worth between $50 million and $60 million annually, meaning a total contract value between $125 million and $150 million in cash alone.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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