ATLANTA — Fans who expected to see global soccer icon and Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi for the big matchup with Atlanta United on Saturday will be severely disappointed.
According to an ESPN report, Messi will not play in Saturday's match inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium after not making the trip with the team. The news was first reported by ESPN Latin America's Federico Bueno.
Messi abruptly left Argentina's World Cup qualifying win before the final whistle last week, but Miami coach Gerardo Martino said Messi was "fine," according to ESPN. He said that Messi stretches his set for a number of matches which include the final of the U.S. Open.
"We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span," Martino told reporters.
Messi was expected to be the star of the show inside The Benz and a gigantic reason for so much anticipation for the 70,000+ fans expected to be in attendance on Saturday. After Messi signed with Inter Miami, tickets for the match skyrocketed and have barely dwindled down since.
There were previous doubts over whether the soccer superstar would play due to Atlanta United playing on turf and Messi preferring to play on a grass surface. Atlanta United is keeping its traditional turf playing surface for the big Saturday match. It would have been Messi's first MLS match on a turf field.
Atlanta United fans can still see former league MVP Josef Martinez who is making a return to the place where his MLS career took off.
The match begins at 5 p.m.