Lionel Messi debut in USA soil set to fall short of breaking record achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo’s two former clubs

Lionel Messi will make his debut soon but may not be able to break the all-time record attendance on US soil that is held by Cristiano Ronaldo’s two former clubs.

After snubbing a return to Barcelona and a lucrative contract with Saudi club Al Hilal, Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami on a free transfer. The move is widely considered by many to be the best-ever transfer to the league, one that is certain to boost the revenue and popularity of the MLS to new heights.

Fans are now clamouring to know the date when Messi makes his debut for the David Beckham owned club. On top of that, drastic increase in ticket prices for all the games further showcase the hype of Messi’s arrival in the US.

Lionel Messi to make debut MLS appearance in USA against Atlanta United

The earliest Lionel Messi can play for Miami is on July 8 against D.C. United. The MLS regulation won’t allow the Argentinian to register before July 5.

However, according to The Athletic, and Inter Miami co owner Jorge Mas, Messi is set to make his debut when Miami hosts Liga MX club Cruz Azul on July 21 in the Leagues Cup. The hype for Messi’s debut is through the roofs, as the match tickets have already been sold out.

Since the match against Cruz Azul will not be part of MLS, Messi’s league debut will take place against Atlanta United in an away fixture on September 17. His home debut in MLS could take place on September 21 against Toronto. 

Messi’s debut was pushed back so late due to security concerns. Inter Miami is still a relatively new club, with their stadium only able to host 18,000 people. Both MLS and the club are working together to increase the security and infrastructure of the stadium quickly.

The MLS season is already halfway through, with the MLS Cup playoffs soon approaching. It is unlikely that Messi will be able to revive Inter Miami in time for the playoffs, who are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Record set by Cristiano Ronaldo’s former clubs

While Messi’s MLS debut will no doubt have the stadium filled to the maximum capacity, it will still not be the most attended soccer match on US soil.  This is because Atlanta United who Messi will make his MLS debut away, doesn’t have the necessary capacity to do so.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium only has the capacity to hold 42,500 people at a time. This means his debut match won’t even enter the top 10 highest attended matches in the US.

The current record for the most attended soccer match in the US is actually held by two European soccer clubs. Both have the distinction to have boasted Messi’s eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo in their lineup once.

Real Madrid vs. Manchester United - Football Match Report - August 3, 2014  - ESPN

The match was Manchester United against Real Madrid in 2014, as a friendly match in prelude to the upcoming season. The match boasted 109,318 attendants in the huge Michigan Stadium, which is the largest stadium in the USA. Ronaldo was playing for Madrid at the time, having joined them from United in 2009. The match ended 3-1 with United winning.

Fans of Lionel Messi will have to wait before they finally see Messi grace the MLS, and surely he will be greeted like a world champion once he does. 


Fazal Al Bashar

481 articles

Fazal is a passionate soccer aficionado, who when not discovering the latest soccer stories and rumors, indulges in playing FIFA all night. While he sucks at the sport, he knows the who and what in all things soccer-related.


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