June 15, 2024

Lionel Messi was left out of Inter Miami CF‘s squad for the fourth consecutive game as the team lost 4-1 to Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on Wednesday night.

Xherdan Shaqiri scored twice for the Fire, and Maren Haile-Selassie added two more in the win for the home side, with the result leaving Miami five points out of the final playoff spot held by Montreal, which drew 1-1 with the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.

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“Many people were here to see Messi, and who doesn’t want to see him,” Chicago coach Frank Klopas said. “But they saw a good performance from our team tonight.”

Messi has 11 goals in 12 matches with Inter Miami. It is 8-0-4 when he plays; seven of those matches were on the team’s run to winning its first trophy by claiming the Leagues Cup championship and another was in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Inter Miami is 1-3-2 in its six matches without Messi since he joined the club.

“Barcelona missed him, and the Argentine team missed him,” Miami coach Gerardo Martino said about Messi. “Of course we’re going to miss the best player in the world.”

Miami has three games left to play, including a game in hand over the two teams it is chasing for the final playoff spot in Chicago and Montreal.

The Argentina World Cup winner has played just once since coming back from international duty in September with the recurrence of a leg injury — starting but then coming off in the first half of a 4-0 win over Toronto FC.

Messi did not make the trip to Chicago with the team and has now missed five of Miami’s past six matches and was seen training independently from the rest of the team earlier in the week. He has been described as game-to-game by Martino in recent weeks.

The Fire sold a team-record 61,000 tickets to the match at Soldier Field.

After Messi’s presence became unlikely, the club announced an offer to fans attending the match. A $250 account credit “toward new memberships for the 2024 season or a $50 account 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.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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