Former Red Xherdan Shaqiri all but ends Lionel Messi’s MLS playoff hopes

Xherdan Shaqiri continues to ply his trade in MLS and his latest outing saw him score two goals to all but end Lionel Messi’s playoff hopes with Inter Miami.

The ex-Red has been with Chicago Fire since February 2022, just months after he moved to Lyon following his Liverpool exit after 63 games.

Now 31, Shaqiri has been a mainstay for the American outfit throughout the season so far and has helped push his team into playoff territory, with his latest goals denting Messi’s hopes.

Chicago Fire hosted Inter Miami and notched a 4-1 victory over the Messi-less side, with the Argentine missing the match due to injury – his fourth consecutive game on the sidelines.

Shaqiri’s goals book-ended the match, scoring the first and fourth for Chicago, in a fixture that saw Fire incentivise fans to attend by giving credit for memberships and tickets.

Fire’s victory has them placed eighth in the Eastern Conference, while Inter Miami are second from the bottom in 14th.

To qualify for the playoffs, a team must finish in the top seven – they get a bye to the first round – or finish in eighth or ninth place to compete in the wild-card round.

Overall, a total of 18 teams qualify. The top nine from the Eastern Conference and the top nine from the Western Conference.

Currently, Fire are five points adrift of a place in the top seven while Inter Miami are 12, though they are five points off a wild card finish – and they have two and three matches left respectively.

The odds, therefore, are looking good for Shaqiri and Chicago Fire, but no so much for Messi and his new team.

Shaqiri has not yet played in the playoffs with Fire, as the club have not qualified for the business end of the season since 2017 – now they only need two more positive results to ensure that changes.