Lionel Messi likely to miss Saturday’s match against DC United

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi runs after scoring against Orlando City during the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)(AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

Lionel Messi’s status for Saturday’s match against D.C. United at Audi Field is now uncertain after the Argentine superstar was injured Wednesday night.

Messi scored a goal and added an assist during Inter Miami’s 3-1 victory over Nashville in the second leg for the CONCACAF Champions Cup round-of-16 match before he was removed in the 50th minute.

Miami head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said Messi was dealing with a right leg injury, and the team elected to take him out as a precaution.

“I don’t want to assume but I imagine that for Saturday’s game he is not going to be available,” Martino said in Spanish. “We will evaluate him, and we will see how he is progressing.”

Saturday’s game is set to be Messi’s first match at Audi Field since joining MLS. He signed with Miami last July, days after the Herons visited D.C. It is the only regular season appearance for Inter Miami in the nation’s capital this year. United travels to face Miami on May 18.

An official announcement on Messi’s status will come down by Friday afternoon, when MLS teams submit their injury reports.

Messi, who turns 37 in June, dealt with injures during Miami’s preseason tour, causing him to miss a match in Hong Kong. He did not play Sunday during Miami’s 3-2 loss to Montreal, which is the only regular-season game he has missed.

While the majority of fans want to see the World Cup champion, Miami is not short on attention-grabbing stars. Miami’s roster features former FC Barcelona players Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba and Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez.

Hottest ticket in DC

The matchup against Inter Miami is a hot ticket among soccer fans in the D.C. region. A United spokesperson told WTOP Saturday’s game is sold out, with tickets only available on the secondary market. Before the start of the season, fans who wanted to secure their ticket had to either purchase full or partial season tickets, a group bundle or be part of a suite and hospitality package.

As of Thursday, resale tickets for Saturday’s match on Ticketmaster, United’s official ticket provider, start at $169, with some field seats ranging between $1,000 to $4,200.

Those lucky enough to attend are asked to review Audi Field’s fan policies before Saturday as a large security presence is expected. Fans are also encouraged to use public transportation and arrive earlier than the game’s 2 p.m. start time due to possible traffic concerns caused by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series.

Those assigned to the supporters stands in sections 136-137 are reminded not to wear opposing team apparel or colors. They will not be permitted to enter the section. United’s six supporter groups plan to continue their protest against D.C.’s preseason trip to Saudi Arabia and will not organize any singing or chanting during the match.

As part of the protest, The Screaming Eagles, United’s largest supporters group, said on social media Thursday it will unveil a banner to honor Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in 2018.

Saturday’s match may not be the only chance to catch Messi play in the D.C. area. The Argentina men’s national team is scheduled to play an exhibition against Guatemala on June 14 at Commanders Field in Landover, Maryland, before the start of the Copa América tournament. The roster for that game will come out at a later date.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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