How will Lionel Messi playing in Charlotte on Saturday affect Charlotte FC’s playoff chances?

By Cameron Lee

October 18, 2023

Looks like there is a good chance international soccer superstar Lionel Messi will play against Charlotte FC this Saturday at Bank of America Stadium. Messi told Argentine media, “I will train and play the remaining game,” after he scored twice in Argentina’s 2-0 win against Peru in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

For Charlotte FC, the remaining two games against Inter Miami have huge playoff implications as they try to make their first entry into the MLS postseason. Wednesday night’s match against Inter Miami is a rescheduled date due to both clubs advancing in the Leagues Cup in the summer when Charlotte FC lost to Messi and Miami 4-0.

If Charlotte wins both remaining games, they would finish the season with 45 points and in 8th place, which would also guarantee a home Wild Card match at Bank of America Stadium between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.

If Charlotte FC wins one match against Inter Miami and loses the other, they would finish the season with 42 points and would need help from Montreal, New York (Red Bulls), and/or Chicago on Decision Day. In this scenario, Charlotte FC would clinch a playoff spot if two of the three teams mentioned above lose or draw.

If Charlotte wins both remaining games, they would finish the season in 8th place and host a Wild Card match at Bank of America Stadium. Photo: Alex Cason

If Charlotte were to win one match and draw in the other against Inter Miami, they would finish the season with 43 points, and still need help from the three teams (Montreal, New York Red Bulls, and Chicago), although they would have a slightly better chance to host the Wild Card match. If the Red Bulls or Chicago win on Saturday, they would pass Charlotte on tiebreakers, but The Crown could still slip into the ninth and final Eastern Conference playoff slot with a Montreal loss or draw in this scenario.

Charlotte FC forward Karol Swiderski has scored four goals with one assist in his last three games. Photo: Alex Cason

Two losses, two draws, or a loss and a draw would eliminate Charlotte FC from playoff contention completely. Saturday’s game will be a big one regardless of what happens on Wednesday night at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While we know Messi will not play on Wednesday night, his presence on Saturday could drastically impact Charlotte’s chances of making their first MLS Cup Playoffs. Messi played a full 90 minutes at the World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, and there is no telling how many minutes he will play on Saturday, especially on a turf field. Messi has been sidelined or coming off the bench for the last few weeks due to a “lingering muscle injury.”

Charlotte has won their last two games against Toronto FC (3-0) and Chicago Fire FC (2-0) off the leg of Karol Swiderski, who has scored four goals and one assist in his last three club games.

Charlotte FC plays Inter Miami Wednesday, October 18 at 8 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and again on Saturday, October 21 at Bank of America Stadium at 6 p.m. in Charlotte.

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