Messi starting as Sporting KC set to break attendance record

Laurens: Inter Miami well beaten by Monterrey (0:52)

Julien Laurens says there was "two different levels" between teams as Monterrey beat Inter Miami 3-1 despite Lionel Messi starting. (0:52)

Lionel Messi will start an MLS game for the first time since March 2, when Inter Miami take on Sporting Kansas City Saturday in front of an expected record-breaking crowd of 70,000 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Fellow star names Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suárez are also in coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino's lineup in Kansas City, Missouri, reflecting the team's newfound focus on MLS following their Concacaf Champions Cup elimination.

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Messi's last MLS start came in a 5-0 win over Orlando City at the start of March. He suffered a hamstring injury in a March 13 Champions Cup game against Nashville SC.

The Argentine forward played the entirety of the second leg of the Champions Cup quarterfinal series against CF Monterrey on Wednesday, completing the 90 minutes of a match for the first time since March 7.

Despite his participation, Miami was eliminated when falling 3-1 (5-2 on aggregate) at the BBVA Stadium.

"Messi will be available for tomorrow's game," Miami assistant coach Javier Morales had said at a media availability Friday. "We will have to see how he feels today, if he is fine he will be ready to play.

"Messi finished the game in Monterrey without any discomfort. I estimate that he will want to play."

The team will now turn their attention to league action, beginning with Saturday's clash. Miami currently sits in third on the Eastern Conference table with 12 points from eight games and a 3W-2L-3D record.

A massive turnout is expected by Sporting KC at Kansas City Chiefs' stadium, which holds a capacity of 76,416, with few tickets still available.

Saturday's attendance is set to break Sporting KC's current attendance record of 52,424 fans, which was set during a friendly between the MLS team and Manchester United at Arrowhead in 2010.

Sporting KC regularly plays its home matches at the 18,500-capacity Children's Mercy Park.

The inaugural meeting between Sporting KC and Miami took place on Sept. 9, 2023, where Miami earned the 3-2 victory with goals from Leonardo Campana and Facundo Farías. This is only the second meeting between the two clubs from opposing conferences.

"The urgency is always to want to win. We want to go for every game," added Morales.