Messi’s Inter Miami to host Real Salt Lake in 2024 MLS opener

 Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami will play host to Real Salt Lake on February 21 in Major League Soccer’s opening 2024 match under a regular-season schedule announced by the league Wednesday.

The North American league’s 29th season will feature the earliest kickoff to any MLS campaign as eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, who led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title, begins his first full season with the Florida squad.

Messi’s first scheduled road match of the 2024 campaign comes only four days after the opener when Inter Miami will visit the Western Conference Los Angeles Galaxy on February 25.

Each MLS team will play 34 matches, 17 each at home and on the road, with Messi’s Inter Miami appearances at all MLS venues expected to draw huge crowds and high ticket resale prices.

Miami will visit all 14 Eastern Conference MLS rivals during the season, the first of those matches coming on March 16 when Inter visits DC United in Washington.

Messi’s Miami is also scheduled to visit all three Canadian MLS cities, hitting Montreal on May 11, Western Conference foe Vancouver on May 25 and Toronto on October 5 in Inter Miami’s final MLS road match of the season.

Inter Miami’s season finale is set for October 19 at home against New England on the last day of the MLS regular season.

The 2024 MLS Cup Final will be played on December 7.

Miami’s other Western Conference visit will be at Sporting Kansas City on April 13.

Messi led Inter Miami to the crown in this year’s inaugural Leagues Cup, a World Cup-style event featuring MLS and Mexican League clubs which will be played again from July 26 to August 25, 2024.

The Crew will visit Los Angeles FC for the first time since 2018 in a rematch of this month’s MLS Cup Final on July 13.

LAFC will face the Galaxy on July 4, the US Independence Day, at the Rose Bowl, where the “El Trafico” rivalry drew an MLS-record crowd of 82,110 last season.

MLS Rivalry Week will be May 11-18 with Cincinnati at Columbus on May 11 and Inter Miami at Orlando City on May 15.