Chicago Fire fans are in for disappointment.
Inter Miami released its lineup for Wednesday's game in Chicago without Lionel Messi.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) October 4, 2023
Messi has now missed five of Miami's last six games with what the team has described as muscle fatigue. Coach Gerardo Martino attributed the issue to "old scar tissue" when Messi missed a Sept. 22 game against Orlando City.
He left his only appearance in the six-game span in the 37th minute of a Sept. 20 game against Toronto FC. That was his only action of any kind since a Sept. 7 appearance with the Argentina national team in a victorious World Cup qualifier over Ecuador. He's since missed another World Cup qualifier against Bolivia on Sept. 12.
As he is around the world, Messi has been a massive draw since he joined Inter Miami this summer. His absence in recent games has been cause for disappointment for fans in visiting stadiums hoping to watch the soccer great.
The Fire announced Tuesday that they'd sold nearly 61,000 tickets in anticipation of Messi's arrival to Soldier Field, more than three times the number of tickets they typically sell. With Messi's absence becoming apparent, the Fire offered fans a financial incentive to show up to the match.
“We understand that many of our fans may be disappointed if they don’t get the chance to [Messi] play," a team statement reads. ... "To show our appreciation, the Chicago Fire will be offering a $250 account credit toward new memberships for the 2024 season – or a $50 account credit for anyone unable to use the new member credit – to all single-game ticket buyers who attend our match vs. Inter Miami regardless of which players are able to make an appearance on the pitch."
When available, Messi has made a significant impact on the field as well as off. Inter Miami is 8-4 in games that Messi has played as he's scored 11 goals in his 12 appearances. He helped lead the team to its first-ever trophy with a Leagues Cup championship in August. In games that Messi has missed, Miami is 1-1-2.
Messi's absence coincides with a Miami push to make the MLS Cup playoffs. Miami has four games remaining in the regular season including Wednesday's matchup in Chicago.