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Happy U.S. Open Cup final day! I'm Pardeep Cattry with everything you need to know as Inter Miami and Lionel Messi chase another trophy.

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📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Wednesday, Sept. 27
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EFL Cup: Chelsea vs. Brighton, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🇺🇸 U.S. Open Cup: Inter Miami vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Network

Thursday, Sept. 28
🇮🇹 Serie A: Genoa vs. Roma, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Network
🇪🇸 La Liga: Osasuna vs. Atleti, 3:30 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+

🌑Make sure to check out our U.S. Open Cup coverage across Paramount+, CBSSN and CBS Sports Golazo Network.

📺 What's on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 7-9 a.m, moving to 8-10 a.m. starting Oct. 2): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network's flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you'll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Wednesday, Friday evening): The leading women's soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. Watch Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Friday a 4 p.m. this week as our analysts break down the best highlights and analysis and share insider information for all things women's soccer.

👟 Kickin' It (Wednesday, 11:30 p.m.): CBS Sports Golazo Network's new unfiltered show returns Wednesday with the second part of a blockbuster Thierry Henry interview. Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can't-miss goals from the day's action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports appPluto TV and Paramount+.

⚽  The Forward Line

🏆 Will Messi play?

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Inter Miami have a shot to win their second trophy in as many months tonight when they compete in the U.S. Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo, but relying on Lionel Messi's services might not be a sure thing.

After a hot start to life in Miami that included winning the Leagues Cup last month, Messi has been in and out of the team battling fatigue. He came off in the 37th minute a week ago in the team's win over Toronto FC and skipped their weekend match at Orlando City all together, in part to rest with tonight's match in mind. Miami head coach Tata Martino admitted yesterday that Messi might not be 100% for the match, and did not participate in training during the portion that was open to the media. As Chuck Booth reports, though, playing him might be worth the risk.

  • Booth: "Speaking ahead of Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final, the Miami manager said that Messi is, in effect, a gametime decision. 'We are going to wait on Leo until the last moment.' 

Messi might not be at his best tonight, but as Alexis Guerrero argues on Morning Footy, a little bit of Messi is better than no Messi at all for Miami.

  • Guerrero: "He has to play and regardless of what you think, it's a final. Even if he can only give you 30, if he can only give you 40, 45, a half, at his peak, that's better than anyone else on that pitch. He's the greatest of all time. He's gotta play -- and he's home. This is huge. Imagine walking out of this season, having gotten here halfway through it, and walking out with, so far, two trophies. That'd be huge."

In that case, the question is not just if Messi plays -- it's also about when he plays, and how long he sees the pitch.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

❓ How will Miami line up?

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If Messi does not play the full match, Martino and his coaching staff will have to decide who takes to the pitch in his absence. They have struggled in Messi's absence going forward, including in their 1-1 draw in Orlando on Sunday, but Martino is expected to offer Facundo Farias the chance to be the main man up top if Messi is not around to occupy his obvious role.

  • Booth: "If Messi can't feature, all eyes will be on 21-year-old Facundo Farias. The Argentine attacking midfielder has registered three goals and one assist during his time with the Herons and is a player who can help fill the creative void without Messi."

Miami could also be without Jordi Alba, who has been following the same path as Messi over the last week. He came off early against Toronto, skipped Orlando, and did not take part in the early part of yesterday's training session, and seems less likely to play than Messi does. Noah Allen is likely the next man up in his position.

  • Booth: "Noah Allen is a left back with plenty of experience but he forces the Herons to attack differently than Alba who takes up spaces more akin to a winger, which could give Houston space to play into."

🔗  Top Stories

🐐 Messi Mania: Catch up on Messi's importance to Inter Miami, the team's chances without Messi, the player's off-field impact, the top 10 trophies he's earned in his storied career, and whether or not tonight's match will be his last of the season.

🏆 Open Cup final central: Houston will like their chances against Miami thanks to the influence of Hector Herrera, but our experts still predict that Miami will take the trophy home in the end.

Napoli face backlash: Victor Osimhen is considering legal action against Napoli after the club posted an offensive TikTok, and facing plenty of criticism for how they're treating their star.

🇨🇦 Canada win: Canada's women's team beat Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate and booked a berth at next summer's Olympics in Paris.

🇺🇸 USWNT latest: The USWNT said goodbye to Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz while soft-launching a new era last week, with Trinity Rodman emerging as the shining star of both wins over South Africa.

🇮🇹 Dispatches from Italy: Here's a status update on Napoli after a slow start to the season, Milan after an up-and-down campaign, and Juventus after a big loss -- but some strong performances from Weston McKennie.

Manchester United drama: Considering United's poor run of form, it's worth asking: Is there a way for Jadon Sancho or Harry Maguire to get back into the team?

🌍 Around the world: Bayern Munich and Harry Kane are off to a strong start, Chelsea are still in a rough patch, Newcastle thrashed Sheffield, Real Madrid lost to Atleti, PSG could be in trouble without Kylian Mbappe, and Atlanta United might have what it takes for a deep MLS Cup playoff run.

📺 Must-see miss: Galatasaray's Mauro Icardi and Kerem Akturkoglu tried to recreate Messi and Luis Suarez's penalty layoff from their Barcelona days. It did not go according to plan.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • League Cup: Chelsea vs. Brighton, Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Teams to draw (+550)
    -- Chelsea's had a rough start to the season with just two wins in all competitions, but the schedule will not be any easier as the Blues aim to turn things around. A strong Brighton team could provide some trouble, which sets up the possibility of a draw -- and a dreaded penalty kick shootout.
  • U.S. Open Cup: Inter Miami vs. Houston Dynamo, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Corey Baird to score (+275) -- While all eyes will be on Messi to lift Miami to another title should he play, the match is likely to be a competitive one with or without the star on the field. The Dynamo come with their own talents including Baird, who has seven goals this season and could keep things entertaining tonight.