We’re happy to announce that Lionel Messi is making the MLS his own personal playground

Lionel Messi scored two more goals on a warm Saturday night in Massachusetts. He nearly scored a third. He assisted Inter Miami’s fourth. And he did it without producing anything remarkable, by his impeccably high standards.

But Messi’s numbers thus far in his first full MLS season are; he has now scored nine times in six-and-a-half MLS games in 2024.

Toss in seven assists, as per the MLS’s somewhat generous definition, and he’s averaging 2.5 goal contributions per 90 minutes.

Which is quite absurd. Remember when Messi took America by storm last summer? It took him 731 minutes against MLS foes, between the Leagues Cup and the regular season, to notch his 16th goal contribution.

In 2024, it has taken him 583 minutes. This boy will go far.

Messi’s first strike against New England Revolution, dwelling in the basement of the MLS like a rebellious teenager magnetically attracted to dive bars, was regulation stuff.

After a nicely-weighted pass from Robert Taylor, Messi produced the kind of first touch that made the ball feel so pampered like it had won a week’s holiday at the Ritz hotel in London before slotting it into the net.

Like we said, regulation stuff.

READ NEXT: The 10 most valuable MLS players in 2024 according to Transfermarkt

TRY A QUIZ: The Ultimate Lionel Messi Quiz: 30 tough questions to test your knowledge of the GOAT

His second transported those in attendance across the Atlantic to the wonderful city of Barcelona, perhaps nestling in Camp Nou’s vertigo-inducing upper tiers after a day of culture and superb tapas in the 2010s, as Messi combined with old pal Sergio Busquets.

Gifted with a criminally large swath of midfield turf, Busquets unlocked the Revolution defence with an eye-of-the-needle pass. Messi wasn’t about to let his mate down and dispatched the ball into the far corner.

That Messi and his former Barcelona comrades are picking apart MLS is nothing new; these guys have won Champions League and World Cups after all.

But the rate at which they’re doing so is both astounding and unprecedented.

In 11 games last summer before his all-but-season-ending injury, Messi averaged 1.61 non-penalty goals plus primary assists per 90 minutes.

Over a full season, that would have been the second-best goal-creation rate of his unparalleled career. But the question lingered over whether it was sustainable.

It was. And he’s doing all this despite a nagging hamstring injury that disrupted his season.

He sat out one game, missed three with the injury, played only 45 minutes off the bench when he returned – and still leads the league with nine goals. He’s even joint first in the assist table with seven.

On Saturday, he became the first player in MLS history to record two or more goal contributions in five consecutive games, according to the league themselves.

And Inter Miami – despite its many flaws, which were exposed in their recent CONCACAF Champions League exit against Monterrey – leapt back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Messi has made a career out of making the remarkable seem ordinary. And his exploits in the MLS will take nobody back in Europe or Argentina by surprise.

But the miniature magician is currently breaking all kinds of records in the States. Even in the autumn of his career, Messi is stamping his name all over the history books.

By Michael Lee

Source link

Leave a Comment