It’s been only a few weeks since Lionel Messi debuted in Major League Soccer and the money and publicity on him have been well worth it for the league.
After his breathtaking winner against Cruz Azul, the 36-year-old scored three consecutive doubles to fire Miami into the last eight, including a late equalizer in Sunday’s win over Dallas.
Once again Messi struck gold from a free kick, curling the ball into the top-right corner to make it 4-4 and send the game to extra-time. In penalty kicks he put one past the goalie to help Inter Miami move on to the next round and make it to the final 8. This is a team that before Messi took over the reins as Vet they were dead last and on the way to an early offseason. They still need to showcase improvement in real league play but if the league cup shows us anything it is that Messi is the phenom we expected him to continue to be.
The only players to have scored more than Messi are Gonzalo Higuain (29), and current Inter players Leo Campana (16) and Robert Taylor (8).
Messi has breathed new life into a franchise that had been struggling earlier in the season, and his country believes the United States now has an alien in its presence.
Looking into his impact from a viewer standpoint, all you need to know is that when he was signed all teams paused their ticket sales for Inter Miami games, and In the debut match at home stars like Lebron James were out in Miami to catch Messi do his thing. He’s going to pack seats in every stadium and every team’s revenue is going to benefit from him being here. Every ticket has also risen 3-5 times as much for his games as they originally were before he was announced. More revenue means more chances at growth and more growth means the success of MLS and its partnership with Apple will continue to occur.
Last night the most googled thing in the world was Lionel Messi and MLS and we are getting the feeling now that the MLS is taking it all in. There are talks to doing promotion and relegation in the US to continue to grow the popularity of the sport here and the League has become very popular in the summer months to casuals who normally didn’t watch before but now have a reason to get into it. Sometimes you have to overpay to get what you need and even if Lionel Messi’s play doesn’t translate for the entirety of his contract, the small sample size of his play and effect on the league has been well worth the price of admission.
Now is the time to become a fan because before you know it the League is going to be booming on all cylinders. All Hail Lionel Messi!!!