How to watch and stream
- Sunday, September 3 | 10 pm ET/7 pm PT
- BMO Stadium | Los Angeles, California
LAFC, defending MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions, will almost certainly take the game to Messi & Co. That creates arguably the Herons’ toughest test yet with their new-look squad, and a loss would diminish their postseason dreams.
With plenty of other star power available – Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets for Inter Miami, Carlos Vela and Dénis Bouanga for LAFC – this is simply a must-see game between clubs from two of MLS’s biggest markets.
- Previous: 0-0 draw vs. Nashville SC
- Record: 6W-14L-4D
- Standings: 14th in Eastern Conference
Miami’s goalless draw vs. Nashville on Wednesday marked the first time Messi hasn’t scored or assisted since his debut in mid-July. And while IMCF remain undefeated (6W-0L-4D in all competitions) in this new era, they need every point possible to pull off the minor miracle of rising into the Eastern Conference’s playoff field (hamstrung by pre-Messi form).
The Herons are 10 points off the current postseason pace (with 10 matches to go) and need to leapfrog five teams to reach the East’s No. 9 seed, which would give them a Wild Card game. This cross-continent trip to one of MLS’s strongest sides only adds to the challenge, and it’s followed by a Sept. 9 match vs. Sporting Kansas City where the club plays during the FIFA international break. Messi (Argentina) is among the double-digit anticipated absences as players represent their countries.
Messi, who attempted seven shots against Nashville, has more than delivered with 11 goals in 10 games across all competitions. Can the complementary pieces keep stepping up around him?
- Previous: 2-1 loss at Charlotte FC
- Record: 11W-7L-7D
- Standings: 2nd in Western Conference
LAFC play some of the most attractive soccer in MLS, and now they’ll hope to dent Messi Mania while the world’s gaze shifts to BMO Stadium. Beyond that motivation, a win would keep head coach Steve Cherundolo’s team within striking distance of St. Louis CITY SC for the West’s top playoff seed.
The Black & Gold boast a potential Landon Donovan MLS MVP candidate in Bouanga, a Gabon international forward who has totaled 25 goals and 14 assists in 35 games across all competitions this season. And in Vela, they boast a former MLS MVP who has 9g/7a this campaign. They have plenty of depth and talent to go blow-for-blow with Miami, too.
The biggest question might be how LAFC seek to take control. Is it via relentless final-third pressure, both with and without the ball? Or is it more one where Cherundolo’s team absorbs pressure and breaks quickly through Bouanga? A fascinating tactical battle awaits.
MLSsoccer staff –@mls