Lionel Messi, Hong Kong situation results in two Argentina friendlies in US this March

The fallout from Lionel Messi’s absence for an Inter Miami match in Hong Kong has resulted in two more chances to watch him play in the United States next month.

Messi will likely join Argentina, the reigning 2021 Copa America and 2022 World Cup champions, for both matches that are set up to help the club prepare for this summer’s Copa America tournament.

Argentina will play El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on March 22 and Nigeria at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on March 26, it was announced Thursday.

Messi would miss Inter Miami’s road game against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on March 23, but could play twice more in the New York area later this year.

Messi would likely return to action with Inter Miami on March 30 at home against New York City FC. Both teams will meet again at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21.

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Argentina will play in the Copa America opener against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Argentina’s second match is against Chile on June 25 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Argentina also will play Peru on June 29 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, where the Copa America final will be held.

Messi had an assist and orchestrated Inter Miami’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the 2024 MLS season opener on Wednesday night.

Officials in China canceled two Argentina matches in the country after Messi did not appear in an Inter Miami friendly in Hong Kong on Feb. 4 due to an adductor injury, causing fans and local officials to express disappointment in his absence. To make matters worse, Messi appeared close to healthy when he played in Tokyo on Feb. 7.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi, Argentina to play two March friendlies in United States