Lionel Messi Breaks MLS Records While Leading Inter Miami to Victory Over New York Red Bulls 

Lionel Messi continues breaking records…

The 36-year-old Argentine professional footballer scored a goal and had five assists as Inter Miami trounced the New York Red Bulls 6-2 on Saturday night, with the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner setting no fewer than three Major League Soccer records in the effort.

Lionel MessiThe six goal contributions, five assists and five assists in a half were all MLS records.

Messi, who earned the MLS Player of the Month Award for April, has now scored and assisted in six consecutive league matches.

Luis Suárez had three goals and Matias Rojas scored twice as Inter Miami got six unanswered goals to come back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime. Messi and Suárez now have a league-leading 10 goals each, helping keep Inter Miami (7-2-3, 24 points) atop the Eastern Conference.

The win extended Miami’s unbeaten string to six. The streak began after a 4-0 loss at New York on 20 April, in which Messi did not play because of an injury.

Miami began the rout with Rojas’ equalizer in the 48th minute. Messi centered a pass to Rojas whose left-footed shot landed under the crossbar.

Suárez then fed a charging Messi with a touch pass to beat New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel with a shot from 15 yards.

Rojas made it 3-1 with his second goal in the 62nd minute on an assist from Messi.

Messi then contributed on former Barcelona teammate Suárez’s first goal in the 69th minute.

Suárez also struck in the 75th and 81st minutes before the Red Bulls (4-2-5, 17 points) closed the scoring on Emil Forsberg’s penalty kick in stoppage time.

New York controlled possession early and eventually capitalized on a Miami defensive breakdown that resulted on Dante Vanzeir’s goal in the 30th minute. José Carmona ran deep into the right wing of the large area and blasted a shot that bounced off the far post. An unmarked Vanzeir retrieved the deflection and converted from 15 yards.

Messi had his only scoring opportunity of the first half in the 24th minute, when Coronel stopped his shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba missed his third straight game because of a hamstring injury.

Both clubs will continue MLS play next Saturday. Inter Miami will visit CF Montreal while the Red Bulls will host New England.

Carlos Aviña Reportedly Joining San Diego FC as Sporting Director

Carlos Aviña is thisclose to joining Major League Soccer.

The MLS’ latest expansion team San Diego FC is set to name the Mexican soccer executive, currently serving as AS Monaco’s director of football, as the club’s first sporting director, per ESPN.

Carlos AviñaThe appointment of Aviña is imminent with an announcement expected soon, sources said.

The news of Aviña’s potential appointment was first reported by Fabrizio Romano.

San Diego was awarded an MLS expansion team in May 2023, with the team to begin play as the league’s 30th club in 2025.

San Diego FC CEO Tom Penn hinted at the arrival of key front office staff in February, telling ESPN: “We’ll hire a sporting director first, coach would be after that, I’d say likely sometime in Q2 [of 2024] you would hear more.”

The new face of San Diego will arrive with plenty of experience, working as Club America‘s head of sports intelligence from 2017 to 2019 before being promoted to director of football development and player recruitment. He then joined Club Brugge in 2021, serving as sporting director.

Aviña has been with Monaco for the past 10 months, helping the team to third in the Ligue 1 table with 49 points from 27 games and a 14W-6L-7D.

Now, with San Diego, he’ll be tasked with building the team from scratch.

The team has made just three player signings ahead of their MLS debut, bringing on U.S. youth national team goalkeeper Duran Ferree and international arrivals Jeppe Tverskov and Marcus Ingvartsen.

Despite the club’s location, Penn has said that he’s not solely focused on making the first major signing a high-profile Mexican star.

“We don’t have that specific kind of goal, no,” he told ESPN in October 2023. “We want to find foundational players that are gonna be with us for the formative years of a club. We’re gonna work with the key leaders in football operations that will be identified to make those key decisions.”

LA Galaxy Sign Gabriel Pec from Brazil’s Vasco da Gama Through 2028 MLS Season

Gabriel Pec has landed an out of this world deal…

The LA Galaxy have announced the signing of the 22-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, a winger, from Brazilian top-flight club Vasco da Gama.

Gabriel Pec Pec, a Brazil youth international player, is signed through the 2028 Major League Soccer (MLS) season and will occupy a designated player spot.

The reported $10 million transfer fee surpasses the previous Galaxy record of $9.4 million paid to Spain’s Sevilla in 2020 for striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.

“Gabriel has been a key contributor for one of the biggest clubs in Brazil’s Serie A and we are beyond excited that he is choosing to join the Galaxy as the next step in his burgeoning career,” Galaxy general manager Will Kuntz said in a release.

“In addition to his work rate and attacking prowess, he will also be bringing the experience of representing his native Brazil in the qualification tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics when he joins our group. We are thrilled to announce Gabriel as the newest member of the LA Galaxy.”

Pec has spent his entire career at Vasco da Gama, tallying 26 goals and 14 assists in 178 matches since 2019.

Carlos Andres Gomez Helps Lead Colombia to 3-2 Victory Over Mexico

Carlos Andres Gomez has pulled off an impressive victory…

The 21-year-old Colombian professional footballer, a winger and forward for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, scored a 92nd minute goal to help secure Colombia’s 3-2 victory over Mexico in Saturday’s friendly at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Carlos Andres GomezWith both teams featuring experimental rosters due to the match landing on a non-FIFA date, the friendly kicked off in energetic fashion with dangerous first-half opportunities for both sides.

While Puebla’s Guillermo Martínez placed a header on target for Mexico in the ninth minute, Colombia forced two saves from El Tri goalkeeper Jose Antonio Rodríguez by the midway point of the first half.

But it was Mexico that opened the scoring in the 40th minute with the first goal of the night. Monterrey’s Omar Govea intercepted the ball and did well to connect with Martínez in the final third, before the Mexico midfielder received the ball back and slotted a shot past former Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina.

In the second half, the back-and-forth continued. Martínez made it 2-0 for Mexico after his 50th minute shot found its way under Ospina, and in the 55th minute Colombia narrowed that lead to 2-1 thanks to New York Red Bulls defender Andrés Reyes finding the back of the net after a close range assist from Sebastian Velásquez.

Colombia then made it 2-2 in the 69th minute after a highlight-worthy strike from Racing Club‘s Roger Martínez. Following a clash between two players in the midfield, Martínez rushed forward with the ball and launched a powerful attempt that Rodriguez failed to halt.

Appearing destined for a draw, the game swung in Colombia’s favor in stoppage time after Gomez pounced on an 18-yard box assist from David Macalister Silva to make it 3-2.

Moments later, the final whistle blew, extending Colombia’s undefeated streak to 19 games.

Mexico manager Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano, who took over as interim coach before winning the Gold Cup and being given the permanent position in August, closes out 2023 with a 7W-3D-3L record.

Colombia manager Nestor Lorenzo, hired in the summer 2022, maintains an 8W-5D-0L unbeaten record.

Earlier this month, both teams were involved in the draw for the 2024 Copa America, which will be hosted in the United States. In Group B, Mexico will face Ecuador, Venezuela and Jamaica and, in Group D, Colombia will face Brazil, Paraguay and the winner of a playoff between Costa Rica and Honduras.

Cucho Hernandez Named MLS Cup MVP After Leading Columbus Crew Past Defending MLS Cup Champions Los Angeles FC

Cucho Hernandez has helped dethrone the reigning champions…

The 24-year-old Colombian professional footballer scored a goal to help the Columbus Crew defeat Los Angeles FC (LAFC) on Saturday to give his team their third MLS Cup and earn this year’s MLS Cup MVP award.

Cucho HernandezTwo of those titles have come in the last four seasons. Columbus advanced to the 2015 title game but lost to the Portland Timbers. The LA Galaxy‘s five titles are still the most for a Major League Soccer franchise.

Saturday’s win capped the Crew’s impressive turnaround this season. After winning the 2020 MLS Cup, Columbus missed the playoffs the next two seasons. The franchise has since undergone significant changes, including the hiring of Wilfried Nancy as the team’s head coach.

Hernandez scored in the 33rd minute, putting Columbus up 1-0 on a penalty kick. He deposited the ball in the lower left corner for his fifth goal in six playoff matches this season. LAFC defender Diego Palacios was whistled for a handball off his right arm at the top of the box, setting up the penalty.

Yaw Yeboah added a goal in the 37th minute, doubling Columbus’ lead when Malte Amundsen threaded a pass through to Yeboah on the left flank. From there, Yeboah dribbled to the goal box and slipped a shot past goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

The objective for the Crew in the second half was to avoid the same fate as FC Cincinnati a week earlier in the Eastern Conference final. Columbus rallied in that game from a two-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes of regulation and won 3-2 in extra time.

LAFC’s Bouanga made it 2-1, scoring on his own rebound after Patrick Schulte made a save at the left post in the 74th minute. Bouanga, who led the MLS with 20 goals, has 38 goals in 49 matches in all competitions this year.

Earlier this year, Hernandez was named to the MLS Best XI, an annual acknowledgment of the best eleven players in Major League Soccer. The selection is determined by a collection of media, players and MLS club technical staffs.

Luciano Acosta Named 2023 Major League Soccer MVP

Luciano Acosta is Major League Soccer’s all-star player of the year…

The 29-year-old Argentine professional footballer and FC Cincinnati midfielder has been named the 2023 MLS MVP, the league has revealed.

Luciano AcostaAcosta received 60.37% of the vote among players, media and technical staff to easily beat LAFC forward Denis Bouanga, who received 14.97%. 

Atlanta United FC‘s Thiago Almada finished third in the voting with 6.46%.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Acosta said in a video produced by the team that was shot when he was told he had won the award. “I think everybody deserves something this year. We deserve more. We have to give it our all. Let’s go.”

He later joked, “I don’t want to go to practice. I won the MVP.”

Acosta, a Buenos Aires, Argentina, native led the league with 31 goal contributions during the regular season, with 17 goals and 14 assists, and helped Cincinnati to their first Supporters Shield.

Cincinnati remains in contention to claim the MLS Cup, as it faces in-state rivals the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference final this Saturday.

Acosta is just the sixth player in league history to record three or more seasons with at least 10 goals and 10 assists.

Acosta is the ninth South American-born player to earn the honor and first since Josef Martínez won the award with Atlanta United in 2018.

Other Argentines to win the award are Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers, 2015), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew, 2008), and Christian Gómez (D.C. United, 2006).

Acosta has been a prolific attacking player ever since he entered the league in 2016 with D.C. United, scoring 58 goals and adding 78 assists, the most goal contributions by any player in that span.

Only Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC, last year’s MVP, has made more contributions since Acosta made his Cincinnati debut in 2021.

His 43 regular-season assists since 2021 are the second-most of any MLS player during that time, and only Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro (80) has more regular-season assists than the Cincinnati playmaker since 2016.

Acosta began his professional career with famed Argentine side Boca Juniors, making his professional debut in 2014.

He spent the 2016 campaign on loan with D.C. United before making the move permanent a year later, and went on to score 25 goals in 137 league and cup appearances.

He spent 15 months with Liga MX side Atlas before joining FC Cincinnati.

Chris Armas Named New Manager of MLS’ Colorado Rapids

Chris Armas is Rapids-ly headed to The Centennial State.

The Colorado Rapids have hired the 51-year-old Puerto Rican professional soccer coach and former player to be their next manager, according to ESPN.

Chris Armas Armas replaces Robin Fraser, who was dismissed in September with the Rapids languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Chris Little, who was also a finalist, took over on an interim basis, leading the club to a 2-4-2 mark.

That wasn’t enough to move the Rapids off the bottom of the table, as Colorado finished the season with 27 points and a record of 5-17-12.

Sources tell ESPN that Charlotte FC assistant Pa Modou Ka was also a finalist, as were two unnamed foreign managers.

Armas had the most managerial experience of any of the confirmed candidates.

Starting in 2015, he served as an assistant with the New York Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch, and took over as manager following Marsch’s departure midway through the 2018 campaign, leading the Red Bulls to that year’s Supporters Shield.

Armas struggled thereafter, however. He was let go by the Red Bulls midway through the 2020 season, and lasted less than a year as manager of Toronto FC as the team failed to produce results in 2021.

Armas later served as an assistant at Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick, and had a short stint with Leeds United where he was briefly reunited with Marsch.

As a player, Armas spent time in MLS with the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire, the latter of which he won an MLS Cup with in 1998.

Armas also made 66 appearances with the U.S. men’s national team.

Lionel Messi Earns Record-Extending Eighth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has extended his record…

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star, who currently plays for Inter Miami CF, has won the Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time, after leading Argentina to the FIFA World Cup title last year.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who beat out Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, becomes the first Major League Soccer-based player to claim the coveted prize, although the triumph comes largely on the back of his exploits with his country in Qatar.

Former Manchester United player and Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham handed his prize-signing Messi the award in Paris.

Haaland, who scored 52 goals last season as Manchester City won the Treble in 2022-23, finished second in the voting and won the Gerd Muller Trophy given to the best striker of the year.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” Messi said after getting his award. “The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies.

“To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”

Prior to Messi receiving his award, Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí won the Ballon d’Or Féminin after a record-breaking year with club and country. She helped Barça win Liga F and the Champions League last season, before leading Spain to World Cup glory in the summer.

In other awards handed out on Monday, Messi’s Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper and England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham was handed the Kopa Trophy as the world’s top player under the age of 21.

During his acceptance speech, Messi made a point of wishing Argentina countryman Diego Maradona happy birthday. The 1986 World Cup winner, who died on November 22, 2020, would have been 63 on Monday.

“My last mention is for Diego [Maradona],” Messi said. “Today is his birthday. So I would like to remember him from here, surrounded by the best players, coaches and people who love football like he did.

“Wherever you are, Diego, happy birthday. This goes also to you.”

Even prior to Monday’s ceremony in Paris, no player had won the Ballon d’Or more times than Messi, who first won it in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won it five times, while Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten are all three-time winners.

Messi scored 21 goals in 41 appearances last season as Paris Saint-Germain retained the Ligue 1 title before moving to Inter Miami earlier this year.

Since moving to the U.S., he has scored 11 goals in 14 games for Miami, helping the franchise win its first-ever piece of silverware, the Leagues Cup.

However, he missed several matches through injury at the end of the regular MLS season as Gerardo “Tata” Martino‘s side came up short in their late push for a playoff spot.

It is Messi’s performances at the World Cup at the end of 2022 which have earned him an eighth Ballon d’Or, though, as Argentina ended a 36-year wait to be crowned world champions for the third time.

Messi, as captain, was instrumental to Argentina’s success in Qatar, scoring seven goals and assisting three more as he was named as the Player of the Tournament.

He scored twice in the final and again in the penalty shootout against France as Lionel Scaloni‘s team edged one of the most memorable showpieces in the competition’s history.

Having come up short with Argentina at four previous World Cups, including losing the 2014 final to Germany, it was deemed by many to be his last chance to get his hands on football’s biggest prize.

At 36 years and four months old, he also becomes the second oldest player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, replacing last year’s winner Karim Benzema. Only the inaugural winner, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older when he won it aged 41.

Messi’s first six Ballons d’Or were won while he played for Barcelona, where he is the club’s record goalscorer and appearance holder, while he won it for a seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021 following Copa America success with Argentina.

Lionel Messi Among Finalists for MLS’ Newcomer of the Year Award

He may have only played in six MLS matches, but Lionel Messi has certainly made an impression.

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star has been named one of the three finalists for Major League Soccer’s Newcomer of the Year award following his debut season with Inter Miami.

Lionel Messi Messi is nominated alongside Atlanta United striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and St. Louis City SC midfielder Eduard Löwen.

The World Cup winner had also been listed as one of 30 nominees for the league’s MVP award earlier this month as one of two players put forward by Miami during the club-nomination phase.

However, he didn’t make the cut for the top three shortlisted on Thursday, missing out to FC Cincinnati front-runner Luciano Acosta, Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga of LAFC and Messi’s young Argentina teammate Thiago Almada of Atlanta.

Following his signing on a free transfer, Messi enjoyed a dream start to life in Miami. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 10 goals in seven games to lead the club to its first trophy with the lifting of the Leagues Cup. He also played in Miami’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory over Cincinnati.

However, Messi’s appearances in MLS league play were limited by a leg injury suffered while on duty with Argentina in September. He was able to play just 372 minutes in six appearances (four starts), scoring one goal and providing two assists as Miami missed out on a place in the MLS playoffs.

Fellow nominee Giakoumakis finished second in the Golden Boot race with 17 goals and three assists in his first MLS season, while former Germany youth international Löwen had six goals and 14 assists in 29 appearances.

While Messi had limited impact on the field in his first season in MLS play, his arrival in the United States caused a surge in ticket and merchandising sales.

Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas said earlier this month that “everything has changed” since Messi’s arrival at the club. In a post on Instagram earlier this week, Messi said he was “proud of everything the team accomplished this season.”

The awards are voted on by current MLS players and coaches, technical directors/general managers and select media members. Winners will be announced throughout the MLS playoffs.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

Landon Donovan MLS MVP
Luciano Acosta, FC Cincinnati
Thiago Almada, Atlanta United
Denis Bouanga, LAFC

Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year
Bradley Carnell, St. Louis City SC
Wilfried Nancy, Columbus Crew
Pat Noonan, FC Cincinnati

MLS Newcomer of the Year
Giorgos Giakoumakis, Atlanta United
Eduard Löwen, St. Louis City SC
Lionel Messi, Inter Miami CF

MLS Young Player of the Year
Thiago Almada, Atlanta United
Duncan McGuire, Orlando City SC
Aidan Morris, Columbus Crew

MLS Goalkeeper of the Year
Roman Burki, St. Louis City SC
Roman Celentano, FC Cincinnati
Pedro Gallese, Orlando City SC

MLS Defender of the Year
Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Seattle Sounders FC
Matt Miazga, FC Cincinnati
Tim Parker, St. Louis City SC

MLS Comeback Player of the Year
Joao Paulo, Seattle Sounders FC
Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City
Miles Robinson, Atlanta United

Lionel Messi Expected to Travel with Inter Miami for Team’s Final MLS Game Against Charlotte

Lionel Messi could possibly appear in Inter Miami’s final game of the Major League Soccer season.

Lionel MessiThe 36-year-old Argentine soccer star will travel with Inter Miami CF to Charlotte for the team’s final game of the MLS season.

Miami assistant coach Javier Morales confirmed on Friday before Messi trained with the team that the Argentina star will be available to play on Saturday. 

“He’s going to travel. We will decide tomorrow how much time he will play,” Morales said.

A muscle injury had limited Messi to only two appearances — and 72 total minutes played — for Miami since September 3. He had played 90 minutes for the first time in 6 weeks last Tuesday in Argentina’s win over Peru for the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers.

“Certainly, having Lionel [Messi] in the team is a motivation for everyone. We know what he means for football,” Morales said. “To have him in our team and available to play and compete is always good for us. We’re happy he’s returned and is 100% and we’ll see how he goes tomorrow in the game.”

Messi came as a substitute in the 1-0 home defeat to FC Cincinnati on October 7 that eliminated the Herons from playoff contention.

The last match in Messi’s first season in the MLS at BofA Stadium in Charlotte will be the first time he has played on artificial turf.

Following the Charlotte game, Inter Miami players will have a couple of weeks off before they get back together in November for a two-game-tour to China.

Charlotte is still in the race for the playoffs, in a must win situation to have any hope of grabbing one of the last Eastern Conference postseason spots.

“If he plays, he plays. And we have to deal with,” Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said about the possibility of facing Messi.

“We have to focus on ourselves and we have to play our game. And also, we have our supporters on our side and we hope that they will really be behind the guys like they always do.”