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Saturday, March 2, 2024

MLS Looks to Expand Global Footprint As Euro Leagues Tap U.S. Market

  • Inter Miami will embark on a two-game tour in China.
  • Recently, European clubs have found success playing preseason matches in the U.S.
Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half at Subaru Park.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Lionel Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami brought the eyes of the world on MLS. Now, the league is taking its most popular team straight to international fans in an effort to grow its global cache.

Next month, Inter Miami will play two exhibition matches in China as part of the young club’s first-ever international tour. Inter Miami failed to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, which will extend through early December. The club’s final match of the regular season is Saturday against Charlotte FC.

If both friendlies — against Chinese Super League clubs on Nov. 5 and 8 — sell out, Inter Miami will play in front of more than 100,000 fans. 

The tour represents a significant step for MLS, which is attempting to use a global strategy typically reserved for top European clubs featuring the sport’s biggest stars. Messi, however, has a long history of playing in front of Chinese fans throughout his illustrious career.

European Game Plan

Europe’s top soccer leagues have found rousing success in bringing their most popular clubs to the U.S. for various friendlies or preseason tournaments. Recent summers have seen NFL stadiums filled with American fans eagerly watching teams from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga.

Now, MLS is taking a page from its European counterparts as it looks to expand beyond North America.

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