How to watch and stream
- Friday, August 11 | 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT
- DRV PNK Stadium | Fort Lauderdale, Florida
This quarterfinal winner will meet either Liga MX side Querétaro FC or MLS powerhouse Philadelphia Union come Aug. 15. After the semifinals, squads advance to either the final or third-place match on Aug. 19.
Like past knockout phases, this single-elimination match goes straight to penalty kicks if a draw persists through regulation time. And the tournament stakes are weighty, with the trophy, one of three 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup spots, prize money and bragging rights all up for grabs.
Messi has delivered and more to begin his Inter Miami career, tallying seven goals and three assists in four matches to lead the Leagues Cup Golden Boot race. Two world-class free kicks – first in the group stage vs. Cruz Azul, then in the Round of 16 vs. FC Dallas – are the standout highlights, going social-media viral as a worldwide audience tunes into MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Messi, chasing an eighth Ballon d’Or title, is showing no signs of slowing down after having won the World Cup last December. And this tournament run may end with him raising a world-record 44th trophy, building off his illustrious career previously forged for club (FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain) and country (Argentina).
Inter Miami, returning home, are similarly benefitting from the legendary duo of midfielder Sergio Busquets and defender Jordi Alba joining manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino's new-look squad last month. But lower-profile names are also raising their level in key moments, most recently homegrown midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi, all while the club's U22 Initiative trio of attacker Facundo Farías, midfielder Diego Gómez and center back Tomás Avilés gets caught up to speed.
What does this next chapter of Messi Mania, with its mixture of superstardom and must-see moments, have in store?
Charlotte hope to accomplish what no club has done yet: stop Messi and Miami in their tracks. Further, no club has held the Herons to fewer than two goals since the Argentine superstar debuted back on July 21.
For Charlotte to achieve the above and move closer to their first-ever trophy, a big-time performance from goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina may be required, similar to when he denied Cruz Azul in penalty kicks in the Round of 32. The Crown will also need to reconfigure their backline slightly as fullback Nathan Byrne misses out on yellow-card suspension.
Fans will monitor if head coach Christian Lattanzio gives Brecht Dejaegere his first start after the Belgian debuted in the Round-of-16 comeback win at Houston. Alongside fellow summertime signing Scott Arfield and Ashley Westwood, Dejaegere gives Charlotte the makings of a veteran-heavy midfield trio.
One extra layer: Charlotte and Inter Miami are set to meet twice in Eastern Conference play once the regular season resumes post-Leagues Cup, including on Decision Day (Oct. 21) at Bank of America Stadium. Whatever unfolds Friday, some juicy rematches await later in 2023.