Chicago Fire fans disappointed by Messi’s no-show

Lionel Messi, the star Argentine soccer player who joined Inter Miami FC in August 2023, was expected to play against Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Soldier Field. However, he did not make it to the field due to his ongoing injury problems. This was the fifth game in a row that Messi missed for Inter Miami, and the second one that he skipped after traveling with the team.

Messi’s absence disappointed many fans who had paid big bucks to see him in action. Some fans had traveled from other states or even countries just for the match. Ticket resellers had asked for hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the coveted tickets. Local supporter groups had raffled off tickets as fundraisers. Billboards emblazoned with pictures of Messi had popped up throughout downtown Chicago.

Chicago Fire fans disappointed by Messi’s no-show
Chicago Fire fans disappointed by Messi’s no-show

The Fire were hopeful that the game could break the franchise attendance record of 54,432, which was set in 2005 against the Columbus Crew. But after Messi missed four of the last five games for Inter Miami and sat out an international game for Argentina during the same span, excitement had been replaced with disbelief.

Fans react to Messi’s no-show: ‘I’m not mad, just disappointed’

Some fans expressed their frustration and anger at Messi’s no-show, while others were more understanding and supportive of his situation. Here are some of the reactions from the fans who attended the game or watched it on TV:

  • Miguel Hernandez, a soccer coach from Bolingbrook, said he paid more than four times the ticket price as a surprise birthday present for his 12-year-old son, Noe. He said he was excited to be at the stadium for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Messi, even on the bench.” He said he was not mad, just disappointed. “If you’re mad that he (Messi) is not playing, it means that you don’t understand the game,” he said.
  • Riazuddin Mohideen, who traveled with his 8-year-old son from Nebraska just for the match, said he paid around $1,000 per ticket when he bought them two months ago. He said he didn’t mind the price because his son Haaziq “loves soccer and his favorite player is Messi.” But when he found out that Messi was not going to play, it was upsetting. “I’m disappointed but grateful to be here with my son,” he said.
  • Jose Lopez, a lifelong soccer fan who was helping his friend to sell shirts outside Soldier Field, said some vendors had ordered shirts to sell months ago and weren’t selling as expected. “It was too much money. He (Messi) can’t be that bad that he can’t at least make a short appearance,” he said.
  • Maria Gonzalez, a fan from Argentina who lives in Chicago, said she was proud of Messi for representing her country and joining Inter Miami. She said she understood that he needed time to recover from his injury and adapt to his new team. She said she hoped to see him play soon and wished him well. “He is a legend and he deserves respect,” she said.

Chicago Fire beat Inter Miami 4-1 with Shaqiri’s brace

Despite Messi’s absence, the game was not lacking in entertainment and goals. Chicago Fire dominated Inter Miami and won 4-1 with a brace from former Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri scored in the 49th and 81st minutes, while Maren Haile-Selassie also netted twice in the 59th and 65th minutes. Inter Miami’s only goal came from a penalty converted by Josef Martinez in the 53rd minute.

The result left Inter Miami in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 37 points from 31 games, six points behind the playoff zone. Chicago Fire moved up to seventh place with 42 points from 30 games, one point behind the playoff zone.

Inter Miami will face New York City FC on Saturday at home, while Chicago Fire will visit Atlanta United on Sunday.

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