How to watch, will Lionel Messi play?

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF already have been eliminated from MLS playoff contention, but their final two regular-season games could profoundly impact the league’s Eastern Conference postseason race.

Inter Miami’s opponent on Wednesday night — Charlotte FC — is one of five teams chasing the two remaining playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. CF Montréal paces that group with 41 points and sits in eighth place. Behind CF Montréal are the New York Red Bulls (40 points), Chicago Fire FC (40), Charlotte FC (39) and New York City FC (38).

Working in Charlotte FC’s favor is that it has two regular-season games remaining, instead of one for each of their fellow playoff chasers.

Inter Miami, meanwhile, can play the role of spoiler. Its playoff hopes were dashed in a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati on Oct. 7, but plays Charlotte FC twice in four days due to a rescheduling quirk. A strong finish to the season can build further momentum toward 2024, when Messi and Inter Miami will be expected to be a title contender for both MLS Cup and the Concacaf Champions Cup.

What time does Inter Miami vs. Charlotte FC game start?

The match starts at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

How to watch Inter Miami against Charlotte FC

The Inter Miami-Charlotte FC game can be streamed live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

Will Lionel Messi play against Charlotte FC?

Messi is not in the starting 11, nor available off the bench, for Inter Miami’s game Wednesday night.

This was expected, given the match occurs less than 24 hours after the soccer icon played in a 2026 World Cup qualifier for Argentina against Peru on Tuesday night. Messi scored both goals and played the full 93 minutes in Argentina’s win, which kept the reigning World Cup champions undefeated through four games in CONMEBOL qualifying.

However, Inter Miami does face Charlotte FC again during MLS Decision Day on Saturday, the league’s final regular-season matchday. After Argentina’s win Tuesday night, Messi indicated his intent to play at Charlotte’s Bank of American Stadium on Saturday.

“I will play our upcoming match,” Messi told Argentine media.

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Lionel Messi says he won’t leave Inter Miami on loan this winter

After Argentina’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Peru on Tuesday night, Lionel Messi ended discussion surrounding a possible winter loan during the MLS offseason.

Asked if he’d seek a loan move, Messi responded: “No.

“It’s a shame (we didn’t make the playoffs). We came very close. I missed the last few games, we had several injuries. The month of July was very hard for us, we played every three days, we traveled. But we won a tournament (a Leagues Cup triumph in August), which is important for the club and for what is coming next year.

“I will train, I will play our upcoming match (against Charlotte FC) and I will try to get here [to the national team] in the best possible way for November. After that, I will enjoy the holidays in Argentina. It’s the first time that I am going to have more days off in December, with the holidays, with peace of mind, with my people. In January, I will return again to do preseason. Start from scratch and prepare as best as possible as always.”

Messi has struggled with a hamstring injury during the last couple months as Inter Miami could not complete a run to a playoff berth from the depths of the Eastern Conference standings.

Instead of going back to FC Barcelona, or maybe even the Saudi Pro League, Messi will recuperate while enjoying a lighter load of games that will include a two-game tour of China in November and then World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay (Nov. 16) and Brazil (Nov. 21).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi in MLS: Inter Miami vs. Charlotte FC today


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