Browse all

Messi is still to good for MLS

Another brace tonight against Dallas and another win for Inter Miami

Messi is still to good for MLS Another brace tonight against Dallas and another win for Inter Miami

One girl told how she resold her ticket to the match between FC Dallas and Inter Miami, paying for her ACL surgery, as the price on the secondary market had risen from the usual $45 to almost $900. One small anecdote, however, speaks volumes about the influence Lionel Messi has in US football even before he plays a single minute in MLS. Tonight Lionel Messi played his fourth game in an Inter Miami jersey at the Leagues Cup, the tournament played between MLS and LigaMX teams during the summer break, and since he took the field the fortunes of David Beckham's club have changed dramatically.

In three and a half games, Messi has already scored seven goals and provided one assist. He has also produced a series of philtres, dribbles and bright moves that have helped Inter Miami win and progress in the tournament. The free-kick goal right on his debut against Atlanta United that gave Miami the win in the end was followed by three straight braces, capped by the final free-kick into the corner, always in the closing minutes, that took FC Dallas to the penalty shootout and won. A dominance that breathes new life into the overused metaphor of adults among children. So much so that some US football journalists wonder whether Messi is too strong or the MLS defence too bad.

Probably, as in many cases, the truth lies somewhere in between. Even in the waning stages of his career, despite winning a World Cup less than a year ago as an absolute star, he remains an insider's tip for the level of overseas football and knows how to remain decisive when it matters. In summer football with little intensity and poor tactical organisation, Messi can manipulate opposing defences at will as if he were still the Barca of record. It's no coincidence that Leo has been joined in Florida by Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, two more Blaugrana legends who give Inter Miami's games a vintage charm, as if three great friends were reuniting for one last tournament. And they prove that despite the wear and tear, the class hasn't vanished and they still remember two or three tricks.

Just take Messi's first goal against FC Dallas, a perfect copy of the decisive goal in the historic El Clasico of 2017, when he made it 3-2 at half-time and presented his number 10 jersey in front of the Blaugrana fans' torcida. Just as he did six years ago, Messi took up Jordi Alba's invitation from the flank after a wide triangle and slid in at the first post with a dry and precise finish. Of course, tonight's goal is less serious than the one against Madrid's perennial rivals, but the band Beckham formed in Florida seem ready to play their perennial favourites, albeit in front of a different crowd.