Inter Miami In the Copa Libertadores Could Happen

It is South America’s biggest club tournament and the rumor mill is churning on the possibility Inter Miami gets an invitation to its 2024 iteration.
Having Lionel Messi play in the Copa Libertadores would be quite the sight.
Having Lionel Messi play in the Copa Libertadores would be quite the sight. / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

In Europe, teams embark on different competitions over the course of a season… and Inter Miami may be no different soon.

From league play to tournaments to the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, teams can be in as many as three competitions at the same time.

Now, the rumor mill is starting to pick up on Inter Miami adding another competition to its 2024 Major League Soccer schedule, U.S. Open Cup, and, now, Concacaf Champions Cup campaigns.

Let’s dive into it.

Another Tournament For Inter Miami And It’s Big

The latest batch of rumors surrounding Inter Miami is a potential invitation to play in the 2024 Copa Libertadores tournament.

For those whose Spanish is a bit rusty, the post roughly translates to Inter Miami and other Concacaf teams playing in the annual competition starting next season.

The request was made for CONMEBOL executive Alejandro Dominguez to have Argentinian federation president Claudio Tapia make the request of Inter Miami due to Tapia’s ties to Lionel Messi.

If you are unfamiliar with the Copa Libertadores tournament, that’s ok. Let me explain.

Since 1960, the Copa Libertadores has been the premier club football competition in South America. It started as a tournament only for teams who won their league title the previous year.

Now, it has grown to have nearly four clubs per country in the tournament.

There are eight stages… yes, eight… to the tournament. Four teams surviving the first three stages go into the group stage with 28 other teams.

Then, you have the knockout stages culminating with a final in November.

The winner of the tournament qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup.

You also have the Copa Sudamericana, which is CONMEBOL’s version of the Europa League — similar format as the Copa Libertadores without as much prestige.

Realistic for Inter Miami and MLS to Play in the Copa Libertadores?

This is a big question.

Of course, there would be a ton of experience gained by Inter Miami to play top talent from South America.

And there would be an instant draw thanks to Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba on the squad.

Inter Miami would play in some very hostile environments in South America were it to take part in the competition, but probably not nearly as bad as we might think.

However, there would be massive challenges the Herons would face.

The first would be travel.

Any Major League Soccer squad taking part in the Copa Libertadores would have a massive logistics issue to work out.

Traveling between league play, U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, Concacaf Champions Cup and heading to South America would be a huge expense.

Playing in that many competitions — assuming teams invited to the Copa Libertadores were in the others — also strains rosters.

Major League Soccer has a cap on the number of players each team can have on its senior roster (30). But, adding in yet another competition would almost force MLS to change that rule to allow teams to expand their rosters to accommodate for the extra play.

Finally, you would have a little ill will with other MLS squads who weren’t invited to play.

Inter Miami are in last place in the Eastern Conference and, unless they win the U.S. Open Cup (which they are in the semifinals), the Leagues Cup (which they play in the finals Saturday) or miraculously make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup, there isn’t much justification for them to play over a team that wins any of the aforementioned competitions.

If Inter Miami wins just one of those, that problem is solved, but if they don’t, CONMEBOL would have to have a pretty solid reason, besides Messi, for inviting Inter Miami and not, say, Nashville.

I think it’s a great idea for MLS and even Liga MX to get involved in the Copa Libertadores. It’s a great competition with great clubs.

But there are a lot of things to work out on the club and league level before it becomes a rational idea.