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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Can MLS Keep Messi Mania Alive Amid Packed Schedule?

  • Messi won't play in Inter Miami's next match while on duty for Argentina.
  • The club needs as many points as possible to make the playoffs this season.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve heard it before: another day, another Messi milestone.

This time, new numbers show Apple TV gained more than 100,000 subscribers to MLS Season Pass on the day of Lionel Messi’s first game with Inter Miami last month. Those figures climb even higher when factoring in the weeks surrounding the superstar’s arrival in the U.S.

Now, the league, Apple, and Inter Miami are all hoping to keep the momentum going — even as Messi’s availability is spread increasingly thin. 

Despite a 4% probability of making the playoffs, Inter Miami is among the favorites to win the MLS Cup at most sportsbooks. But the club — currently 14th in the Eastern Conference and five spots out of the postseason — will have to continue its push without Messi, who will miss Saturday’s game against Sporting KC while on duty for Argentina.

Messi could miss two more games this fall while playing for his home nation. Not only does his absence hurt Miami on the field, but it also jeopardizes the subscriber gains Apple has seen as well as rising general interest in MLS.

On Sunday, Inter Miami beat championship contenders LAFC, currently third place in the Western Conference, but the club will likely need to win a majority of its final nine MLS games to qualify for the postseason.  

Messi’s time at Inter Miami has already been full of must-win games, with the club lifting the inaugural Leagues Cup and reaching the U.S. Open Cup final. Another run of can’t-lose matches would no doubt be content gold for Apple and MLS — but only if Messi is on the pitch.

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