On Friday, MLS is ready to begin a new era, but fans will have to wait a little longer to witness debut of Lionel Messi for Inter Miami in an official league match.
Instead, the Argentine superstar will lead Inter Miami in a Leagues Cup match against Mexico’s Cruz Azul in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Messi had earlier announced during the summer that he would be continuing his career in Miami, shortly after securing a World Cup title less than a year ago. The official signing was confirmed just last Saturday.
The team unveiled him to fans on Sunday night, and Lionel Messi joined his first Inter Miami training on Tuesday ahead of the first match of a new tournament that is a joint venture between MLS and Liga MX, Mexico’s top flight.
“I can’t wait to start training, start competing,” Messi said during his unveiling. “I’m arriving with the same desire I’ve always had: to compete, to want to win, to want to help the club keep growing.”
All 47 teams from both leagues will be competing during the month-long event as each participating club takes a break from its domestic season.
The top three finishers will qualify for next year’s CONCACAF Champions Cup, with the winner receiving a bye into the round of 16.
In MLS play, Inter Miami currently sits in last place in the Eastern Conference table, 12 points beneath the playoff line with 12 regular-season matches to play. Inter Miami won’t continue their regular-season pursuit until Aug. 20 with a home date against Charlotte FC.
Messi is only the centerpiece of a dramatic summer overhaul by the Herons. They also signed Messi’s former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, as well as Paraguayan 20-year-old prospect Diego Gomez.