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Inter Miami Faces Sporting Kansas City Challenge Without Messi Amid Playoff Push

Their star player might be chasing World Cup glory, but the team he left behind is in hot pursuit of an MLS playoff berth.

In the absence of their talismanic captain, Lionel Messi, who's currently away on international duty with Argentina, Inter Miami finds itself in a crucial clash against Sporting Kansas City this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Their star player might be chasing World Cup glory, but the team he left behind is in hot pursuit of an MLS playoff berth.

To jog your memory, Messi recently steered Miami to the Leagues Cup title, showcasing his unyielding commitment to propel his MLS side into postseason contention.

However, the road to playoff glory has taken an even more challenging turn this weekend, as Messi will be notably absent during the MLS international break. Inter Miami currently languishes in the 14th spot in the Eastern Conference standings, boasting a record of 4-10-13. It's an uphill battle, to say the least, if they aspire to grace the postseason stage, although last week's upset victory over LAFC certainly lends a glimmer of hope.

The impending showdown against Sporting Kansas City is set to unfold at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

For fans eager to catch the action, Inter Miami's bout with Kansas City, scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday, will be streamed on MLS Season Pass, accessible via AppleTV.

This marks Inter Miami's sole encounter with Kansas City this season. Speaking of their opponent, Kansas City currently occupies the 11th position in the MLS Western Conference, boasting a record of 8-8-11. Notably, they enter this clash with momentum, having pulled off an impressive upset against table-toppers St. Louis last Saturday, securing a 2-1 victory.

As for Messi's exploits with Argentina in the World Cup qualifier, it's a classic Messi tale. The Argentine legend delivered a trademark free-kick goal in the 78th minute on Thursday, securing a 1-0 triumph over Ecuador. This victory contributes significantly to Argentina's quest to secure a spot in the 2026 World Cup, an event set to be hosted by the United States. Thursday night's fixture marked Messi's first appearance for the national team since their victorious campaign in the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar.

In light of the international MLS break, the slate of games this Saturday is limited. The fixtures for MLS Matchday 31 (September 9) are as follows:

DC vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m. ET
Inter Miami vs. Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota vs. New England, 8:30 p.m. ET
Portland vs. LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET
Taking a glance at Inter Miami's remaining 2023 schedule, we see a series of critical fixtures on the horizon:

Sept. 16: Away at Atlanta United, 5 p.m. ET
Sept. 20: Home vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 24: Away at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
Sept. 27: Home vs. Houston Dynamo FC (U.S. Open Cup final), 8:35 p.m. ET
Sept. 30: Home vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 4: Away at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 7: Home vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 18: Home vs. Charlotte FC, 8 p.m. ET
Oct. 21: Away at Charlotte FC, 6 p.m. ET
Viewers can catch all Inter Miami games through the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, except for the U.S. Open Cup final on September 26, which will be available for streaming on the CBS Sports Golazo Network. Additionally, if Messi guides Inter Miami to the MLS playoffs, fans might be treated to televised postseason clashes on FOX. Stay tuned for the electrifying journey that awaits Messi's Miami outfit in their pursuit of MLS glory.

Austyn McFadden

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Saturday, September 9, 2023

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