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Messi Plays Full Game for Inter Miami in 1-0 Loss as Charlotte Qualifies for MLS Playoffs

Lionel Messi plays on artificial turf in Inter Miami's season finale as Charlotte FC qualifies for MLS playoffs.

In the final game of the season, Lionel Messi showcased his skills on artificial turf as Inter Miami faced off against Charlotte FC. The match drew a massive crowd of 66,101 fans at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 74,000. While Messi's presence was undoubtedly a major attraction, the focus was also on Charlotte's bid to secure a spot in the MLS playoffs.

As the reigning Ballon d'Or winner and the leader of Argentina's victorious 2022 World Cup campaign, Messi played the entire game for Miami, despite the match being inconsequential for their playoff hopes. He had a notable performance, taking three shots and creating two scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, his apparent goal in the 49th minute was disallowed due to an offside call, and his shot in the 62nd minute hit the crossbar.

On the other side, Charlotte needed a win against Miami and favorable results from other matches to secure one of the two remaining playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The team delivered for their fans, with Kerwin Vargas scoring the decisive goal in the 13th minute. Charlotte's defense held strong in the remaining minutes, preventing Miami from finding the back of the net. This victory was particularly significant for Charlotte, considering their tendency to concede late goals throughout the season.

In terms of attendance, Charlotte FC has had an impressive season, ranking second in the league. Prior to the season finale, they were averaging 33,634 fans per game. The support from their dedicated fanbase has undoubtedly played a role in their success.

For Messi, his time with Miami has been fruitful. In 14 matches, he has scored 11 goals, contributing significantly to the team's 8-2-4 record when he is on the field. Additionally, Miami secured their first-ever trophy, the Leagues Cup championship, with Messi's help. He has also made appearances in six MLS games, starting four times and scoring one goal. Notably, he participated in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal as well.

However, a leg injury disrupted Messi's season and ultimately dashed Miami's playoff hopes. Without Messi, the team has struggled, winning only one out of eight matches. His brief return as a substitute against Cincinnati resulted in a 1-0 loss, sealing Miami's elimination from the playoffs.

Looking ahead, Messi is set to represent Inter Miami in two exhibition matches in China on November 5 and November 8. This foreign tour marks a significant milestone for the club. Following the tour, Messi will focus on Argentina's World Cup qualifiers on November 16 and November 21. After these international fixtures, he will enjoy an extended break before returning to prepare for Inter Miami's 2024 season.

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