Lionel Messi Makes Debut with Inter Miami in Leagues Cup Clash Against Cruz Azul

Xavier Roger
Lionel Messi to start for Inter Miami

Global soccer superstar Lionel Messi is set to make his much-anticipated debut in the United States, joining Inter Miami for a thrilling match against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup. The game will kick off a monthlong tournament featuring 47 clubs, including 29 from MLS and 18 from LIGA MX, competing in a World Cup-style format. The top three teams will secure spots in the prestigious 2024 Champions Cup.

The arrival of one of soccer’s biggest stars in Miami is a surprising development, considering Inter Miami’s current last-place position in MLS’ Eastern Conference. The team is currently playing at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, a temporary home with a seating capacity of 22,000, until the completion of their new stadium, Miami Freedom Park, expected to open in the summer or early fall of 2025.

Despite the team’s current standing, Messi’s presence as the four-time Champions League winner and seven-time Ballon d’Or recipient has elevated Inter Miami’s status, solidifying him as the undisputed star of MLS. His contract extends through 2025, ensuring fans will enjoy witnessing his exceptional talent until he turns 38.

The highly-anticipated match between Inter Miami and Cruz Azul is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday at DRV PNK Stadium. Soccer enthusiasts will have to switch between Messi’s debut and the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s opening game in the 2023 World Cup against Vietnam at 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox.

To catch Messi’s debut, viewers must have Apple TV+ and subscribe to the MLS Season Pass, as the game will exclusively stream on the platform. The English broadcast will feature Jake Zivin and Taylor Twellman, with Katie Witham reporting from the sidelines. Spanish-speaking audiences can tune in to UniMás for coverage.

Messi’s contract with Inter Miami is lucrative, with earnings between $50 million and $60 million annually until 2025. Although less than his previous $674 million four-year contract with FC Barcelona, he will also reportedly receive an ownership stake in the club and has revenue-sharing deals with both MLS and Apple TV+. Additionally, Apple will distribute a four-part documentary on Messi’s illustrious career.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia fans, Messi’s Inter Miami won’t face the Union during the second half of the season. The two teams could potentially meet in the playoffs, but it’s a long shot for Miami, considering their current standings. The closest Philadelphia fans will get to see Lionel Messi in person will be when Inter Miami travels to play the New York Red Bulls on August 26.

Inter Miami’s 2023 schedule includes several exciting matchups, streaming exclusively on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass. Notably, the game against Cruz Azul will also be televised on UniMás.

As soccer enthusiasts eagerly await Lionel Messi’s debut with Inter Miami, his presence is expected to bring excitement and enthusiasm to the MLS, raising the profile of the sport in the United States.

Inter Miami 2023 schedule

Here are Inter Miami’s remaining games. All of the games will stream exclusively on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming package. Some games in the Leagues Cup will also air on traditional TV.

July 21: vs. Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup., 8 p.m. (televised on UniMás)

July 25: vs. Atlanta United in the Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 2: Start of Leagues Cup knockout round games with the round of 32

Aug. 20: vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 26: at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30: vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 3: at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m.

Sept. 9: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 16: at Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20: vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 24: at Orlando City, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 30: vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4: at Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.

Oct. 7: vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21: at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m.

TBD: MLS playoffs if Inter Miami qualifies

Source : Inquirer

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