Messi joining Inter Miami is a huge deal for Apple — Here's how to watch his debut vs Cruz Azul

Messi promo
(Image credit: Apple)

After months of speculation and a monumental reveal in Fort Lauderdale despite tumultuous weather conditions and bad audio quality, Lionel Messi is now officially an Inter Miami player.

Lionel Messi is the world's best footballer and is considered by many to be the best footballer that has ever stepped foot on the planet. Inter Miami, his latest club, is currently bottom of the Eastern Conference in the MLS, so he'll have to produce a miracle to turn the team's season around.

Apple owns the exclusive MLS Season Pass streaming rights, which means you'll need a subscription to watch the majority of Messi's MLS matches. Some may feel annoyed that they’ll have to fork out for another subscription service, with MLS Season Pass costing $14.99/month or $12.99/month if you already subscribe to Apple TV Plus, but others will be excited at the prospect of seeing the GOAT on a streaming service available in over 100 countries.

Messi's first match for Inter Miami is in the Leagues Cup against Cruz Azul. Here's how to watch it.

How to watch Messi’s Inter Miami debut vs Cruz Azul on MLS Season Pass

Lionel Messi Inter Miami debut MLS Season Pass

(Image credit: Apple TV)

Messi’s Inter Miami debut will take place on Friday, 21 July, when Inter Miami face Liga MX’s Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup. The game kicks off at 8 pm ET/3 pm PT and is available on MLS Season Pass via the Apple TV app.

If you want to subscribe to the MLS Season Pass, we have a fantastic how-to guide that explains the ins and outs of the subscription service. There is also a one-month free trial, so you can see Messi play for free before opting to subscribe to the service. If you like what you see, you can also get 50% off MLS Season Pass with a fantastic mid-season discount that is live just now.

Messi’s first MLS game, exclusive to Apple TV and the MLS Season Pass, will likely be on 28 August when Inter Miami face Charlotte live from the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Will Messi play against Cruz Azul?

Inter Miami has confirmed that Messi will indeed make his debut versus Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup on Friday July 21. Messi posted on Instagram with the quote "see you Friday".

How can I watch Messi in Miami?

You can watch Messi's first game for Inter Miami on Apple TV via the MLS Season Pass. The service will give you access to Messi's debut vs Cruz Azul as well as all of Inter Miami's remaining MLS games.

Who is Lionel Messi?

Lionel Messi

(Image credit: Paris Saint Germain)

Lionel Messi is arguably the best football player to have ever played the game. Born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1987, he has gone on to win nearly everything there is to win in the world of football, including the World Cup, Copa America, multiple Champions League trophies, multiple league trophies around Europe, and seven Fifa Ballon d’Or awards, which is the most prestigious individual award given to the best footballer in the world every year.

Messi is a global megastar, and after leaving Paris Saint Germain this summer, he is now honing his craft in the United States for all MLS fans to appreciate. Inter Miami, owned by David Beckham, is currently bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference, so the GOAT has his work cut out.

Why is Messi joining the MLS such a big deal for Apple?

Lionel Messi standing with David Beckham holding an Inter Miami jersey

(Image credit: Inter Miami CF)

Let me put this into perspective. In the world of football, the MLS is a lower league in comparison to the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, and other main leagues across Europe.

MLS has always been seen as a sort of retirement option for older stars wanting to move to America and get a pay cheque in doing so. The list of legends is long, from David Beckham to Andrea Pirlo, and it dates back to the 70s when Pelé joined the New York Cosmos.

You may look at Messi’s age and think his prime years are over, but the difference between Messi and other legends that have joined the MLS in the past is that Messi, even past his prime is still one of the best players in world football today. Heck, just seven months ago, he won Player of the Tournament as he led Argentina to their first World Cup in 36 years.

Now imagine Michael Jordan playing in Europe after the Chicago Bulls won their sixth NBA championship in 1998. Regardless of where he played, the world would’ve watched and this situation with Messi is no different.

As for where Apple comes in? The company is said to have enticed Messi’s decision to join the MLS by offering him a revenue share of subscribers to their $2.5 billion investment in becoming the official broadcast partner of the MLS with the MLS Season Pass offering on Apple TV. In fact, if you want to watch Messi play football on streaming, the only way to do so is by subscribing to the Apple TV subscription offering. It’s an incredible play from Apple that will not only add legitimacy to the streaming service but also to the league as a whole. Some MLS games are available on television via Fox and FS1, but the only Inter Miami MLS game that will grace televisions outside of MLS Season Pass on Apple TV is their game versus Orlando on September 24.

With the Men’s World Cup held in the United States in 2026, there’s a huge push to increase the popularity of the sport in the country, especially considering North America is the biggest untapped market for football anywhere in the world. Football is the most popular sport globally, yet the height of popularity for US soccer was in 1994 when Diana Ross missed a penalty in the opening ceremony of the World Cup on its shores. In 2026, it will be 32 years since the last North American world cup, and Messi playing in the MLS is a massive step toward making people care.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

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