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Apr 12, 2024 8:08 pm

Sporting KC welcome Lionel Messi, Inter Miami to Arrowhead Stadium

lionel messi

Inter Miami visit Sporting Kansas City on Saturday in what may be the biggest regular-season match in the hosts’ history.

It’s too early to be worried about playoff implications, but because the Miami roster includes international superstar Lionel Messi, the match was moved from 18,467-seat Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan., to 76,000-plus-seat Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

“It will be a great venue for a game like this,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said Thursday. “There are guys (on SKC) who have never played in front of a crowd that size. But at the end of the day, we have a game to play.

“I’ve watched (Messi) play since he was very young. I don’t know any team or any coach that has ever devised a game plan that has nullified his unbelievable qualities.”

Sporting KC (2-1-4, 10 points) are likely still stinging after blowing a 3-nil halftime lead and settling for a draw against the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon. After Willy Agada missed a penalty kick that would have put SKC up 4-0, Portland scored three goals within 17 minutes to level the match and escape with a road point.

Miami (3-2-3, 12 points) is winless in its last three MLS matches, including two straight draws.

Scoring has not been an issue. Inter Miami’s 16 goals lead all of MLS. Messi has scored four goals in his four MLS matches played (315 total minutes) and he’s not even Miami’s leader. That honor belongs to Luis Suarez, who has five goals.

Messi returned to the starting lineup for Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions Cup match against Monterrey. Nico Sanchez, a Monterrey assistant coach, referred to Messi as a “possessed dwarf” with the “face of the devil” following the first leg of the series. Miami coach Tata Martino said that was ill-advised.

“When it comes to someone like him and the way he competes on a professional level since being 16, 17 years old, he doesn’t need any extra or special situation,” Martino said. “The day he doesn’t feel that way, he will leave football.”

–Field Level Media

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