Lionel Messi has been announced as one of the three finalists for the MLS’ Newcomer of the Year award, despite only playing in six league matches during his first season with Inter Miami. This nomination adds to the recognition Messi received earlier this month when he was listed as one of 30 nominees for the league’s MVP award.
Messi’s limited playing time in MLS league matches can be attributed to a leg injury he suffered while on international duty with Argentina in September. Nonetheless, the Argentine star made an immediate impact upon his arrival in Miami. In just seven games, Messi scored an impressive 10 goals, leading Inter Miami to their first trophy by lifting the Leagues Cup. Additionally, he played a crucial role in Miami’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory over Cincinnati.
Despite Messi’s exceptional performance in the limited number of matches he played, it was not enough to secure a place in the top three nominees for the MVP award. The finalists for the MVP award are Luciano Acosta from FC Cincinnati, Denis Bouanga from LAFC, and Thiago Almada, Messi’s fellow Argentina teammate who represents Atlanta.
Giorgos Giakoumakis from Atlanta United and Eduard Löwen from St. Louis City SC are the other two nominees for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award alongside Messi. Giakoumakis, in his first MLS season, finished second in the Golden Boot race with 17 goals and three assists, while Löwen, the former Germany youth international, had a commendable season with six goals and 14 assists in 29 appearances.
Although Messi’s impact on the field was limited during his inaugural season in MLS play, his presence in the United States had a significant effect off the field. Inter Miami’s managing owner, Jorge Mas, highlighted the magnitude of Messi’s arrival at the club, stating that “everything has changed” since the Argentine’s signing. Furthermore, ticket sales and merchandising revenue experienced a surge following his arrival.
The MLS awards, including the Newcomer of the Year award, are determined through a voting process involving current MLS players and coaches, technical directors/general managers, and select media members. The winners will be announced throughout the MLS playoffs.
In conclusion, Lionel Messi’s nomination for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award is a testament to his exceptional skills and impact on the league, despite his limited playing time. While he faces tough competition from Giorgos Giakoumakis and Eduard Löwen, Messi’s substantial contribution to Inter Miami’s success and the subsequent boost in the club’s popularity solidifies his standing as one of the league’s most significant new arrivals.