CHICAGO (WLS) -- Soldier Field is hosting a long awaited MLS match-up Wednesday night, Chicago Fire versus Inter Miami CF.
On the Miami team, World Cup champion Lionel Messi was absent from Miami's lineup at a sold-out Soldier Field.
Messi is injured, and hasn't played since Sept. 20 when he left a match against Toronto FC and has been listed as "day to day" since.
The Fire match quickly sold over 61,000 tickets, an all-time record for the team, and Soldier Field's upper decks were then opened for the match to allow for more fans to attend. But many are let down by the Argentinian's possible absence.
The Chicago Fire did offer an incentive for fans to show up anyway. Attendees can choose between a $250 account credit toward new memberships for next season, or a $50 account credit to anyone unable to use the new member credit.
For longtime Messi fans, and 17-year-old high school soccer player Josh Ocampo, this is a huge disappointment.
"I was actually very excited to go to his game," Ocampo said. "My mom surprised me with tickets last week for my birthday right before it was official he wasn't going to play, and I was kinda bummed out because that was who we mainly wanted to go see."
Chicago Fire FC announced in a statement: "We understand that many of our fans may be disappointed if they don't get the chance to see him play."
The club said they will offer fans a $250 account credit toward new memberships for next year's season, or a $50 account credit to all single-game buyers who attend the match.
John Spiggos spent a small fortune buying tickets to bring his two soccer loving grandsons to the game. But without Messi, they're staying home.
"It was all planned," Spiggos said. "And now that he's not playing we're stuck with tickets I can't use."
There is word Messi may make some kind of appearance, but fans are left with tickets to a game that may not feature the star they shelled out hundreds of dollars to see.
Ocampo's mom paid over $1,400.
Ocampo said getting a glimpse of Messi Wednesday is better than nothing, as seeing a World Cup champion in an MLS match is not an ordinary sight.
"For him to be seen in-person, even if it's a few hundred yards away, it's still crazy. Because I grew up watching this player since I was 7," Ocampo said.
Another fan, Russell Standridge, also still plans to go to the game even without Messi.
"This is the nature of sports," Standridge said. "You get hurt and can't play. That's the risk you take."