CHICAGO: The spotlight remains on the uncertain status of soccer legend Lionel Messi as Inter Miami prepare to face the Chicago Fire in a pivotal Major League Soccer (MLS) match at Soldier Field on Wednesday.
Messi, who has been sidelined with a leg injury, has kept fans and pundits guessing about his return to the pitch.
Inter Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said, "We will see in the training if we are running any type of risk and will evaluate if it's convenient for him to travel or not," maintaining the day-to-day status for Messi's return.
The uncertainty has prompted the Chicago Fire to offer an enticing deal to fans who purchased tickets with the expectation of watching Messi in action.
The Fire announced a $250 account credit for new memberships in the 2024 season or a $50 account credit for match attendees, regardless of Messi's presence on the field.
They acknowledged the disappointment fans might face if Messi doesn't play but expressed their eagerness to welcome new fans into the Fire family.
Inter Miami's playoff aspirations hang in the balance, as they currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference, trailing the final playoff spot by four points. A loss to Chicago would dent their postseason hopes significantly. The team still has three crucial MLS matches remaining in the regular season.
Messi, who has scored 11 goals in 12 matches with Inter Miami, has been a game-changer for the team. The Argentine superstar's jersey is already the top-selling in the league for 2023, despite his late-July debut.
Inter Miami boast an 8-0-4 record when Messi is on the field.
Chicago, tied for ninth place with Montreal in both points and games remaining, see Wednesday's match as pivotal to their own playoff ambitions.
As both teams vie for postseason berths, the uncertainty surrounding Messi's availability adds an extra layer of intrigue to the upcoming clash at Soldier Field.
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