VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps will play host to Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF in the 2024 Major League Soccer season as the Canadian team celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The league released its 2024 season schedule on Wednesday, with the Whitecaps having a bye the opening weekend of the season.

The club's home-opener will be held on March 2, when it hosts Charlotte FC, and it will host Toronto FC on April 6.

The Whitecaps will host Messi and Inter Miami on May 25, 2024. CF Montreal gets the first crack at Messi on Canadian soil on May 11 and Toronto will also host Miami in its season closer on Oct. 5.

Vancouver will once again take part in the Leagues Cup, which runs from July 26 to Aug. 25, 2024 as well as the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

The Champions Cup match will take place on Feb. 7 at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., due to a scheduling conflict at B.C. Place.

Vancouver entertains Mexican club Tigres UANL in the first round of the 27-team competition. The first leg will take place on Vancouver Island before a second leg at Estadio Universitario in San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico on Feb. 14.

“We have taken steps forward each year; last season we showed that we can compete with any team in our league, and we are working hard to ensure we will hit the ground running,” Axel Schuster, the Whitecaps' chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Toronto starts its season Feb. 25 at Cincinnati, which won the 2023 Supporters' Shield as top regular-season team, and opens at home March 9 against Charlotte.

CF Montreal opens its season with six games on the road, starting Feb. 24 at Orlando and including a March 10 game at Miami.

Montreal plays its first game at Stade Saputo April 13 against Cincinnati.

Montreal will visit archrival Toronto on May 18 at BMO Field, with a return fixture at Stade Saputo on July 20.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2023.