Lionel Messi Aug 2, 2023; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) shoots and scores a goal against Orlando City SC during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The CBS Sports Golazo Network may get a bump later this month that couldn’t have been expected when it launched in the spring.

On Thursday, CBS announced that the Golazo Network would be airing the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup on Thursday, August 23. This ordinarily wouldn’t be all that groundbreaking of an event, but the first semifinal features FC Cincinnati hosting Inter Miami and Lionel Messi.

FC Cincinnati-Inter Miami airs at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Houston Dynamo-Real Salt Lake in the second semifinal at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The final will air on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+ and takes place on Wednesday, September 27.

There’s no guarantee Messi will play in the semifinal or (if Miami advance) the final, but this is a scenario CBS couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams when the network began picking up US Open Cup matches in April.

Messi has taken MLS by storm since arriving stateside earlier this summer, and Apple TV has been the main beneficiary of his performances for Inter Miami. MLS is in the first year of a ten-year media rights deal with Apple, and every one of the league’s matches airs on the platform. Only Messi’s first match with Inter Miami, a Leagues Cup tilt with Cruz Azul, has been available beyond the Apple paywall. That match also aired in Spanish on Univision, averaging 1.753 million viewers.

Inter Miami has advanced to the Round of 16 in the Leagues Cup (they’re scheduled to play FC Dallas on Sunday), but we’re still waiting for any non-Apple broadcast assignments for the rest of the matches in the tournament.

Fox only gets one bite of the Messi apple during the remainder of the MLS regular season. On Sunday, September 24, FS1 will air Orlando City vs Inter Miami at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fox has the NFL doubleheader that Sunday, allowing for a nice marketing opportunity for MLS.

The CBS Sports Golazo Network, a 24-hour soccer streaming network, launched on April 11, and is available for free on the CBS Sports app, Paramount+, and Pluto TV.

[CBS Sports]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.