Messi scores as Miami beats Sporting KC in front of Mahomes, Reid

Soccer legend Lionel Messi met Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes before the game, then shined on the same field Mahomes does every home game in the NFL.

Messi scored a goal early in the second half and assisted another in the first half en route to a thrilling 3-2 victory for Inter Miami over Sporting KC on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Instead of Mahomes, Messi was the biggest star in Kansas City, delivering in front of a reported crowd of 72,610 – the most-attended soccer match in state of Missouri and the third-most attended MLS game in history.

“This was incredible, great environment, fans were tremendous,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told reporters after the game despite the loss.

Messi got his first start in an MLS game since March 2 and played the distance in his third game back from a right hamstring injury with Mahomes, a Sporting KC co-owner, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid in attendance.

Messi’s goal six minutes into the second half was dynamic. He found himself in a rare opportunity of open space without any defenders around him, squaring up with his legendary left boot to soar a kick over the outreached hands of Sporting KC goalie Tim Melia to give Inter Miami a 2-1 lead.

Messi’s assist in the first half was just as special: He saw teammate Diego Gomez making his move in the open field and delivered a pass behind the defense – just like Mahomes finds star tight end Travis Kelce behind linebackers in coverage on the same field.

Although Sporting KC’s Erik Thommy opened the scoring in the sixth minute and tied the match at 2 in the 58th minute, it was Gomez who stole a ball on the left side and delivered a cross to Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez in the 71st minute to retake the lead.

Gomez was the key to the match, delivering with his goal and assist to propel Inter Miami to its first outright win since March 16. The club has also retaken the lead with 15 points (and tiebreaker over New York Red Bulls) in the MLS Eastern Conference.

“The reality is it was essential to win tonight’s game. Also, to recover a little bit that feeling that the team can win,” Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said, referencing the club’s losing effort against LIGA MX side Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions Cup earlier this week.

Fans were largely clad in Sporting KC blue, but all eyes were on Messi during the match as expected. The World Cup champion is the biggest draw in the game – especially in the twilight of his storied career.

Two fans, including a young boy who was cheered loudly, ran onto the field during play for a chance to stand beside Messi. The other, a man, was tackled by Messi’s bodyguard Yassine Chueko in the second half.

Inter Miami will have a week before its next game against Nashville SC on April 20 – enough time for Messi and Suárez, who has scored eight goals in 13 matches, to get some rest. Their fellow Barcelona stars – Jordi Alba, who left with a right hamstring injury, and Sergio Busquets, who collided knees with another player – will also need it.

Sporting KC vs. Inter Miami highlights

Luis Suárez goal: Inter Miami 3, Sporting KC 2

We’ve got a thriller in Kansas City, and “El Pistolero” has entered the mix: Uruguayan star Luis Suárez scored in the 71st minute to give Inter Miami a 3-2 lead over Sporting KC.

Suárez trailed into the front of the net at the perfect time, but the credit goes to Diego Gomez for initiating the score.

Erik Thommy goal: Sporting KC 2, Inter Miami 2

Sporting KC won’t go away – especially at Arrowhead Stadium against Lionel Messi.

Erik Thommy scored his second goal of the game with a right foot into the back of the net in the 58th minute to tie Inter Miami at 2.

The score came off a corner kick that was deflected by Inter Miami’s Luis Suárez right in front of Thommy.

Messi scores goal: Inter Miami 2, Sporting KC 1

Lionel Messi found himself in wide open space, and his left boot found the back of the net: Messi scored in the 51st minute, less than six minutes into the second half, to give Inter Miami a 2-1 lead over Sporting KC on Saturday night.

Messi’s left boot soared over the outreached hands of Sporting KC goalie Tim Melia, and the cheers in Arrowhead Stadium were loud as Inter Miami celebrated.

Messi free kick is wide right: Sporting KC 1, Inter Miami 1

Lionel Messi had just a little too much spin on it. Messi missed a free kick in the 41st minute that curved just before the right goal post.

It was nearly a highlight moment for Messi in Kansas City.

Messi’s shot on goal saved by goalie: Sporting KC 1, Inter Miami 1

Lionel Messi sent a left boot toward the net, but it was saved by Sporting KC goalie Tim Melia in the 27th minute.

Three minutes earlier, Messi connected on a header, but it rolled to the right of the net.

Diego Gomez goal: Sporting KC 1, Inter Miami 1

Lionel Messi doing Lionel Messi things, leading to a tied game in Kansas City.

Messi delivered a stellar pass with his legendary left boot to Diego Gomez, and Inter Miami has tied its match against Sporting KC 1-1 in the 18th minute.

Messi saw Gomez hit his stride, and delivered a perfectly placed pass behind the defense – just like Mahomes has found star tight end Travis Kelce reaching the top of his route behind a linebacker on the same field.

Erik Thommy goal: Sporting KC 1, Inter Miami 0

The lively crowd at Arrowhead Stadium has cheered loudly after Messi’s first touches in the game.

But it took only six minutes for them to erupt as Sporting KC’s Erik Thommy scored to take a 1-0 lead over Inter Miami.

Messi in Inter Miami lineup vs. Sporting KC tonight

Messi will get the start, his first since March 2 in a MLS regular-season game. And he’ll be alongside his fellow Barcelona standouts Luis Suárez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Here are the starting lineups for both teams:

Chiefs coach Andy Reid greets Mahomes before Messi game

Three-time Super Bowl-winning Chiefs coach Andy Reid in attendance for the Messi game at Arrowhead Stadium, too.

Messi, Mahomes arrive for Inter Miami vs. Sporting KC match 

Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes arrived to Arrowhead Stadium, while Inter Miami was making its way to the locker room area. 

And shortly behind Mahomes, Messi made his entrance with a wave to fans before heading into the locker room area. 

Messi, Inter Miami will wear black jerseys for Sporting KC match 

Here’s a rare sight: Messi and Inter Miami will wear their black “La Noche” jersey kit for the first time this MLS regular season. This will be the fourth time Messi will wear Inter Miami’s black jersey: He did during the season finale last year, and twice this preseason before their 2024 jerseys were released. 

Inter Miami has predominantly worn pink jerseys since Messi’s arrival last July.

Chiefs stadium is ready for Messi’s arrival

The NFL sidelines, goal posts and painted end zones are gone. But Arrowhead Stadium looks like it’s in great shape for Inter Miami vs. Sporting KC tonight.

Inter Miami vs. Sporting KC prediction 

Inter Miami 3, Sporting KC 1: Sporting KC may have found its groove scoring eight goals in the last three matches, but Messi’s presence and Inter Miami’s control of possession will take them out of the biggest home game in club history. Messi scores a goal and assists two others to help Inter Miami get back on track after their Champions Cup loss. —Safid Deen, Lionel Messi reporter

Inter Miami vs. Sporting KC odds 

Sporting KC has +130 odds to win at home, while Inter Miami has +175 odds to win on the road. The odds to tie is set at +250, with the over/under set at 2.5 goals, by BETMGM. 

How much will Messi play vs. Sporting KC? 

Messi’s playing time will ultimately be decided by him, although it could be limited. 

He returned from a right hamstring injury last Saturday, and played 90 minutes on Wednesday in Mexico when Inter Miami was eliminated from the Concacaf Champions Cup, following a 3-1 loss and 5-2 aggregate score, to LIGA MX powerhouse Monterrey.

“We will see how long he will play because he played in 90 minutes the previous game. But he is available,” Inter Miami assistant coach Javi Morales said Friday. 

“He finished the game without any discomfort, without any problem. Depending on how he feels will be the minutes he will have on the field, but I think he will want to play.”

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