Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas compares Inter Miami star Lionel Messi to NBA legend Michael Jordan
Argentina captain Messi has missed The Herons’ last three matches through injury but hasn’t yet been ruled out of playing at Soldier Field.
The race to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs is reaching its climax and it’s crunch time for Chicago Fire and Inter Miami, who are both outside the top nine in the Eastern Conference and meet at Soldier Field on Wednesday. The two teams know that dropped points could prove fatal in their bid to continue playing beyond the regular season.
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“Messi and Miami like Jordan and the Chicago Bulls”
In the build-up to the midweek game, interim Fire coach Frank Klopas has become the latest in a long line of people to heap praise on Lionel Messi, whose impact on Inter Miami he has compared to that of NBA legend Michael Jordan during his time with the Chicago Bulls. The Argentine has missed The Herons’ last three games due to injury, with his participation in Illinois also up in the air.
“I grew up in Chicago from a very young age. It’s like the Chicago Bulls, if Michael Jordan didn’t play, they still had a very good team, but if Jordan was there they won eight games in a row. Inter Miami is a very, very good team with some excellent players, but you have the icing on the cake if Messi plays, they have a player that can change the game at any time with one play.”
Klopas: “You can’t take your eyes off Messi”
Klopas was keen to stress throughout his press conference that Wednesday’s opponents have a more than capable squad of players even without the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. “They made some really excellent additions in the Secondary Transfer Window. You can see that in every game in the way they play and link up together. Obviously, when Messi is on the field, they are a different team because you have one player you can never take your eyes off and with one play he can change the result of the game,” added the Fire coach.
Chicago Fire and Inter Miami MLS Cup Playoffs rivals
Chicago Fire are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference but are level on points with Montréal (ninth) and D.C. United (10th) with three matches of the regular season left to play. Inter Miami, meanwhile, are four points worse off in 13th but have played a game fewer. The top seven is all but decided, with the teams finishing eighth and ninth qualifying for the wild card round, in which the winner of a one-off game between the two will progress to Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs.