Lionel Messi might not be at Soldier Field on Wednesday, but the Chicago Fire are hoping their fans will be. Dominican Republic's Edison Azcona's Inter Miami is preparing for what would be another game without the world's best player on the field.
Chicago Brings All its Fans to the Stadium
Aware that 61,000 fans purchased tickets for the Major League Soccer match at Soldier Field, many of them likely hoping to see the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner and World Cup champion on the field with Inter Miami, the Chicagoans are offering fans an offer to attend whether Messi plays or not.
The incentive consists of awarding a $250 account credit for new memberships for the 2024 season or a $50 account credit for those unable to use the new member credit.
This will apply to all single-game ticket purchasers attending the Inter Miami showdown, regardless of which players make an appearance on the field.
Chicago management confirmed that there will be many first-time attendees at a Chicago Fire game at Soldier Field, and that the team is excited to welcome them to the Fire Family and provide them with the opportunity to become long-term fans by creating a wonderful fan-centric environment.
For Chicago, today could be a record crowd. The team is poised to break its Soldier Field mark of 41,000 fans, set in 1997. Since then, it has averaged about 14,000 fans at games at Soldier Field this season.
Messi was on the practice field for part of Inter Miami's training session on Tuesday, although it is still unclear when he will play, or if he will play at all again with the team this season.
Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino refused to provide any timetable regarding Messi when speaking to reporters before the practice session.
The team, which is still trying to make the playoffs, has listed Messi as day-to-day for much of the last month. He has barely played in that span.
Martino denied a report circulating over the weekend that Messi had been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The 36-year-old Argentine has been absent in four of Inter Miami's last five games, plus another for Argentina in that period due to what was initially called fatigue by both club and country, and has since evolved.
- Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) October 4, 2023
The Absence of the Argentine Astro in Miami
Messi made an appearance Monday night at the team's stadium to promote the launch of a children's menu with his name on it at select Hard Rock properties around the world.
The Argentina 10 was available for comment to most of the media present at the event and no update on his injury was provided.
Inter Miami enters the week ranked 13th in the Eastern Conference, four places and four points out of the final playoff spot on that side of MLS.
A loss on Wednesday would not eliminate Inter Miami from the playoff mix, but it would be a major blow to the team's hopes of making the postseason.
After that game in Chicago, Inter Miami has three MLS games remaining: Saturday at home against Cincinnati, a rescheduled home game against Charlotte on Oct. 18 and the finale in Charlotte on Oct. 21.
Messi has 11 goals in 12 games for Inter Miami this season. The team has an 8-0-4 record when he plays.
Seven of those matches were in the team's run to win its first trophy by winning the Leagues Cup championship and another was in the US Open Cup semifinal.
The Argentine star has one goal in four MLS games and has been an instant phenomenon, as expected, with his jersey already being the best-selling jersey in the league in 2023, even if it wasn't available for sale until mid-July.
Inter Miami has a 1-2-2 record in its five games without Messi since he joined the club.
Chicago enters Wednesday in 11th place in the East, but tied in points, with 37, with Montreal. Wednesday is a crucial game for the Fire's postseason hopes.