The fans who shelled out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get a glimpse of perhaps the best soccer player ever might see Lionel Messi this weekend at Audi Field.

He just won’t be on the pitch.

The much-anticipated arrival of Inter Miami and its marquee star for a match against D.C. United lost steam after Messi, 36, strained his right hamstring Wednesday. Coach Gerardo Martino said the club “didn’t want to take any risks” when Messi exited a CONCACAF Champions Cup match against Nashville in the 50th minute.

It should be a bitter disappointment to local soccer fans who were poised to see Messi make his first trip to D.C. since joining Major League Soccer last summer.

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Messi is the latest in splashy foreign exports for top-tier U.S. soccer, which has also brought Pele and David Beckham late in their careers to invigorate the sport. Although Messi is arguably still in prime form at this stage of his career — he is less than two years removed from being Argentina’s best player in its 2022 World Cup title run — there’s only so much of him to go around.

He’s played in only four road games in league play since joining MLS, with two of those matches in L.A. and another in New York.

He’s also expected to miss Inter Miami games this season while playing for Argentina, including friendlies this month. Argentina will play Guatemala on June 18 at FedEx Field in Landover.

Messi has five goals and five assists in as many Inter Miami appearances in 2024. He’s scored more than 800 goals in his club and international career.

Inter Miami also features foreign stars Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, longtime Barcelona teammates of Messi who came to the U.S. on his coattails.

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The news of Messi’s injury has had a dramatic effect on the ticket market for Saturday’s game, the only scheduled visit Inter Miami has to D.C. this season. Whereas secondary market tickets were selling in the thousands before the injury, Washington Channel 7 reported that ticket website StubHub was showing a 31% drop in prices Thursday. As of Friday midday, many tickets were available for less than $150 in the soccer-crazy DMV market.

If you’re a soccer fan who bought tickets to Saturday’s game with now-dashed ambitions of seeing Messi, columnist Kyle Goon wants to hear from you. Email him at