Messi, Messi, Messi again and again: turned soccer superstar Inter Miami upside down in just one month – and sparked an unprecedented stir in soccer in the United States.
It was a goal that only he could actually score: after an initially harmless accumulation, Lionel Messi grabs the ball in the central circle, takes about ten small steps forward with it, briefly straightens up to the goalkeeper and shoots from more than 30 meters away. Per touch with millimeter accuracy in the lower right corner.
Even if goalkeeper Andre Blake – who has 69 caps for Jamaica by the way, is anything but a bad guy on his field – stretches to the limit, he’ll have no chance. The goal that made Inter Miami 2-0 against Philadelphia Union (final score: 4-1) was unstoppable – just like Messi’s success in the United States.
The shortest way to the Champions League
But in the League Cup, a new cup competition involving teams from Major League Soccer and the Mexican League, Messi and his new team (part-owned by David Beckham, by the way) are delighted fans. Inter Miami have won all six matches so far and reached the final on Sunday (3am BT) against Nashville.
Along the way, the world-famous player, nicknamed “La Pulga” (“The Flea”), scored at least once in every match, even scoring nine goals in total. More important than his goals: By reaching the final, Messi’s side qualified for the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, the equivalent of the Champions League in Europe, for the first time in the club’s history.
And from the point of view of the Argentine superstar, whose aspirations throughout his career have always been trophies, titles and more trophies, they were also sorely needed. Because: With Miami, Messi has already picked a real losing team.
With just five wins from 22 matches, Inter sit last in the Eastern Conference and are by far the worst team in MLS. But that was before Messi. World champions Argentina charmed Miami and the entire country – and ensured shirt sales on a scale never before seen in the league.
Pfannenstiel: “USA football has been stirred up”
Lutz Pfannenstiel t-online explains: “This has created a real stir in soccer in the United States. The league and Miami have worked for years to convince Messi of this change – not just in the last six months.”
The 50-year-old is the manager of St. Louis City, the surprise big-box team that rocked the league in its inaugural season and led the Western Conference.
Pfannenstiel has been hearing the hype surrounding Messi for weeks and is impressed: “That a figurehead like David Beckham is really great cinema, as is the performance with the concert and the spectacle around it.”
The scene even impressed a pop star who’s been in the global spotlight like few others for decades: David Beckham’s wife Victoria. “During the performance my wife said, ‘This is amazing what a man can do,’ David Beckham told the BBC, adding with a smile, ‘And you didn’t mean me.'”
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