Lionel Messi wasn’t in Chicago with Inter Miami on Wednesday night for a game against the Fire, missing his fifth match in the last six with the MLS club.
The 36-year-old had been listed as questionable on Inter Miami’s injury report because of a scar tissue ailment that has nagged him in recent weeks. He worked out independently of the team Tuesday.
The Fire – who won the game 4-1 – sold a team-record 61,000 tickets for the match at Soldier Field. After Messi’s presence became unlikely, the team announced prospective season-ticket holders could take a $250 credit toward next season, with single-game spectators eligible for a $50 credit if they decided not to attend.
“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. They are unbeaten when he plays; seven of those matches were on the team’s run to winning their first-ever trophy – the Leagues Cup – and another was in the US Open Cup semi-final. Miami have won only one of the five matches Messi has missed since joining 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.”
Martino gave no timetable for Messi’s return.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Maren Haile-Selassie each scored twice for the Fire. Josef Martinez scored on a penalty kick for Miami.
Miami have 33 points with three games left, five points behind Montreal for the last playoff berth in the MLS Eastern Conference.