After CF Monterrey erased a 2-0 halftime deficit Friday in SoCal to defeat LAFC and eliminate the defending MLS champions from the Leagues Cup, the Philadelphia Union is the top remaining seed in the tournament entering the semifinals.
This means that Subaru Park in Chester, Pa., will not only welcome Lionel Messi and Inter Miami Tuesday night, but the venue will also host Saturday’s Leagues Cup Final if Philadelphia manages to knock off the red-hot Miami squad.
Miami — who was in last place in MLS prior to Messi joining the club — is off to a five-game winning streak with the 36-year-old forward. During that stretch, Messi scored eight goals and dished out a trio of assists.
The fans’ anticipation to witness the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and reigning World Cup champion helped skyrocket the average ticket price for Tuesday’s semifinal match to a record high at Subaru Park. In fact, tickets sold out in just a matter of minutes Saturday.
Manager Jim Curtin expects the stadium to reach an unprecedented noise level as the crowd watches the “GOAT” play live.
“We look forward to hosting the greatest player in the history of the sport in our building,” Curtin said. “I think it’ll definitely be the loudest Subaru Park will ever be.”
Since the beginning of the knockout round, Union goalkeeper Andre Blake has conceded only a pair of goals in three games. During that span, however, Philadelphia scored just three goals. Despite drawing both D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls after regulation time, the Union prevailed over each opponent in penalty kicks.
In 19 matches at Subaru Park since late February, the Union have 15 victories and only one loss. Philly is 4-2-2 against Miami dating back to 2020, but they split their regular-season matches earlier this year.
Not only has Messi’s impact on the field helped turn things around for Miami’s team, but the Argentine’s move to South Beach quickly attracted two of his former teammates from FC Barcelona to reunite: 35-year-old defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets and 34-year-old left-back Jordi Alba. In their first two starts together for Miami, the Spanish veteran duo combined for three assists.
Blake and the Union defense will look to do everything they can to limit Messi and the suddenly formidable Miami attack, but this is certainly easier said than done.
Leagues Cup Final
If the Union advance past Miami, they’ll face the winner of Monterrey and Nashville SC in the championship Saturday. Although Monterrey must travel to the Music City to take on Nashville, the winner of the match will come to Philly for the final unless Miami prevails. The Monterrey-Nashville match isn’t scheduled to kick off until 9:30 p.m. ET, so the winner of Philadelphia and Miami won’t know their championship opponent until closer to midnight.
Monterrey and Nashville enter their semifinal match fresh off promising victories. Monterrey scored three unanswered goals in the final 30 minutes of its quarterfinal match to pull off a 3-2 victory on LAFC’s home turf. Meanwhile, Nashville cruised to a 5-0 home win over Minnesota United. Monterrey remains unbeaten in Liga MX through three matches, while Nashville trails the Union by just two points in the MLS Eastern Conference table.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union