2x FIFA Champ Mia Hamm reflects on Messi Mania in the US
Mia Hamm is not surprised at all by how Lionel Messi has taken America by storm.
Sports Seriously, USA TODAY
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Lionel Messi shared his eighth Ballon d’Or trophy and thanked Inter Miami fans in a short pregame celebration before Friday’s friendly against NYCFC at DRV PNK Stadium.
“I want to thank everyone in Miami, not only on the field, but everyone in the city for the welcome I had with my family and the love I received,” Messi said.
“It’s beautiful to share it with you all,” Messi said. “I’ve been here for a short time, but it seems like a long time.”
Messi acknowledged, even though he hasn’t been with Inter Miami for long, he was happy to bring the club’s first championship in the Leagues Cup this summer.
He also shared his excitement for Inter Miami’s future.
“I have no doubt … that next year will be much better,” Messi said. “We will continue enjoying and try to win more titles, and I hope that you are with me.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber and Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas thanked Messi before he was introduced to the crowd.
“You, Inter Miami fans, have the best player to ever play the game,” Garber said. “Thank you, Lionel, for your belief in Major League Soccer and making your club and our league a league of choice.”
Mas started his speech by recalling when Messi and his family landed at an airport near the DRV PNK Stadium about 122 days ago.
“This football club was created on a dream, a dream that South Florida would house the greatest football team this country had ever seen,” Mas said. “It has been our aspiration and our goal, that when football is talked about in America, that people think and believe in Miami.”
Mas called Messi “the greatest player to ever live” and “the world’s greatest No. 10.”
The fans noise crescendos every time Messi has touched the ball in this one.
Messi missed his first shot on goal in the 10thTh minute, a left boot that barely rose above the net and into the crowd. But the fans in attendance here are eager for a memorable goal they can capture with their phones.
About a minute later, Messi softly kicked a shot on goal, but the NYCFC goalie was able to dive and bat it away with his right hand. Messi grimaced after the missed opportunity.
In the 20sTh minute, Messi tried to navigate between at least six NYCFC defenders before a shot deflected off an opposing player and behind him.
Surprise, surprise. Of course, Messi is in Inter Miami’s starting lineup for a friendly honoring his eighth Ballon d’Or trophy on Friday night.
Here’s the starting lineup for Inter Miami:
Time, TV channel for Messi, Inter Miami match vs. NYCFC?
The match begins at 8 pm, and will be broadcast on Apple TV.
Zidane says Messi is ‘pure magic’ in Adidas conversation
It turns out Zinedine Zidane did a little more than just check out Messi play during a September Inter Miami match.
Messi and Zidane sat together for an extended conversation, which was posted on the Adidas YouTube channel this week. And it’s a real treat for soccer fans.
“It’s a pity that we couldn’t play together,” Zidane told Messi. “This is the moment for me to pass you the ball.”
Zidane also said to Messi: “Today is a very important day for me because I can tell him how much I admire him… I think it is magic, pure magic.”
Watch the interview here:
Martino said Messi may not play the entire friendly against NYCFC.
“I am not sure if he will play the full 90 minutes, but he will play,” Martino said this week.
While the match serves as a final tune-up for Inter Miami’s offseason, it could also serve as preparation for two 2026 World Cup qualifying matches with Argentina later this month.
The friendly against NYCFC, named Noche d’Or by the club, will see Messi honored on the field at 7:45 pm before play gets underway.
Messi, Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are expected to speak. Messi’s Ballon d’Or trophy will also be presented to the fans at DRV PNK Stadium.
Messi will join the Argentine national team for two more World Cup qualifying matches this month.
Argentina will play Uruguay in Buenos Aires Nov. 16, and Brazil at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro Nov. 21.
Now healthy with no Inter Miami matches, Messi could see significant playing time in both matches.
Messi was held scoreless but played the entire match in his last outing with Inter Miami, a 1-0 loss to Charlotte FC to end the MLS season Oct. 21.
But he returned to form in his most recent match with Argentina, where he scored two goals and played all 93 minutes in a match against Peru Oct. 17.
Messi was sidelined with a right leg injury that caused him to miss six Inter Miami matches in the final month of the MLS season.
Inter Miami friendly replaces China tour
Messi and Inter Miami were slated to travel and play two friendlies against Chinese super teams in China earlier this month, but their China tour was ultimately cancelled.
Instead, they will end their 2023 campaign against NYCFC.
“We were really looking to have some friendly matches, but due to circumstances that didn’t depend on us, we couldn’t go to China,” Martino said this week. “However, this is a good opportunity.”