When the announcement that Lionel Messi was coming to Major League Soccer started to leak out, many people started buying tickets and booking travel to see one of the greatest players (if not the greatest) the world has ever seen. However, savvy Sporting Kansas City fans knew that their game, the first ever meeting between KC and Inter Miami, was during an international window.
What does that mean? It means that Messi would almost assuredly be on international duty with Argentina and not playing for his club team in Miami. That is exactly what happened. In fact, currently nine players are called up for international duty for Inter Miami. That’s the most of any team in the league from a team that was literally in last place in MLS until last week.
Missing in Miami
Here are the nine players who are on international duty this week from Inter Miami:
- Edison Azcona (Dominican Republic)
- Drake Callender (USA)
- Benjamin Cremaschi (USA)
- Diego Gómez (Paraguay)
- Sergii Kryvtsov (Ukraine)
- Josef Martínez (Venezuela)
- Lionel Messi (Argentina)
- David Ruíz (Honduras)
- Robert Taylor (Finland)
Sporting KC aren’t getting out unscathed though. Both Marinos Tzionis and Gadi Kinda have been called up by Cyprus and Israel respectively, though Kinda’s call up has yet to be confirmed (likely because he’s missed the last two games injured).
But Messi May Play Sporting Still?
It seems like an open and shut case. Argentina has two 2026 World Cup Qualifiers during this FIFA international window. They play Ecuador on Thursday, September 7th at 7:00 PM CST and then Bolivia on Tuesday, September 12th at 3:00 PM CST. The Sporting KC/Miami game falls in between on the 9th in Miami.
However, there is a report that Messi (and others like Callender) could be released before the MLS matchup.
(🌕) Leo Messi will play against Ecuador, but his presence in La Paz against Bolivia is unknown/not guaranteed. @DiarioOle 🇦🇷
— All About Argentina 🛎🇦🇷 (@AlbicelesteTalk) September 4, 2023
In an effort to confirm the report, I’ve failed. There are literally hundreds of stories written about Messi every day, making it nearly impossible to filter out the madness. Even if it’s true though, that’s just a single day of rest to travel from Buenos Aires to Miami (which is over nine hours). If Messi plays at all against Bolivia, then has to travel, you’d think he’d be only available off the bench at best.
Sporting KC better put it out of reach before then, as they are only likely to be missing one potential starter in Kinda (barring more bad injury news).
The KC Soccer Journal will keep you updated on all things related to this week’s first ever meeting between these clubs throughout the week. It’s a huge game for both teams, who are fighting for their playoff lives.
Update 9/6/23: New reports say Messi will travel barring injury.
🚨 Lionel Scaloni: “We will travel to Bolivia on Sunday. The players who are 100% fit will of course travel, nobody will miss it unless it is due to an injury.” 🇧🇴
Interesting from Scaloni as there were reports earlier saying Messi wouldn’t travel to… pic.twitter.com/drmUd7PZiz
— Inter Miami FC Hub (@Intermiamifchub) September 6, 2023