Inter Miami wins Messi Sweepstakes and loses for sixth consecutive league game


This week saw some big games in Major League Soccer, teams in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup and some notable summer acquisitions. Let’s dive into all of this.


InterMiami and MLS

Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, chose Miami over a huge salary in Saudi Arabia or a Barcelona reunion.

The news crippled the football world for a moment and sent reactions around the world into turmoil. Miami and MLS being the center of attention is huge. The extent of this step cannot really be quantified. Neither in the unreal surge in social media followers Inter Miami experienced at the announcement, nor in the skyrocketing surge in ticket sales across the country. Messi mania, the Messi effect, whatever you want to call it.

The team, the league and football in the USA will benefit in unprecedented proportions. Less than a year after winning the World Cup, Messi will play in MLS. This phrase would never have crossed your mind even in your wildest dreams. Well, maybe, unless you’re David Beckham.

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham and Chief Business Officer Xavier Asensi caused quite a stir this week. (Photo by Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

The days when Josef Martinez ran amok and Atlanta won trophies are a distant memory, but Greek forward Giorgos Giakoumakis is trying to reignite the flame. The Five Stripes designated player is currently the most dangerous threat in the league as he shares a 10-goal lead with the Golden Boot. At this speed he will just pass the opponents.

After scoring in the 3-1 win over DC United, he became the second player in MLS history to score ten goals in under 800 minutes of the regular season. Many players coming from other countries often need time to adjust; Giakoumakis is not that type.

Remember when a month ago people were worried about Peter Vermes and talking about the possibility that he might be fired? Things are certainly changing fast, especially in MLS. Getting a perfectly healthy Alan Pulido back on the field helps a lot, but SKC’s turnaround was remarkable.

They went winless in their first ten games of the season, losing seven of them. However, they have only lost a single game since the beginning of May. Pulido ended this weekend’s 4-1 win over Austin FC with a brace and an assist to put them above the play-off line. The mood is just really good right now and teams are starting to remember that playing at Children’s Mercy Park is a daunting task.

“Sometimes we didn’t make it, but we knew we could do it,” Vermes said. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re nowhere near where I think we can be.”

Wilfred Nancy

Everyone knows Nancy is a great coach and his work at Montreal last season just helped remind people of that. His inauguration at Columbus this year was nothing short of spectacular as the team set an MLS all-time high of 35 goals. Nancy has obviously taken on a comfortable role as the new man at the helm of the crew and he’s made the most of it.

There is still work to be done defensively. But when your offense fires a certain way and scores great goals, you have more time and freedom to work. The three-headed monster of Juan Camilo “Cucho” Hernández, Lucas Zelarayán and Christian Ramirez was untamable. That was evident on Saturday against the Chicago Fire, when Cucho fired a shot from long range and luckily deflected past the goalie to put it ahead – the luck you get when the team picks up steam.

Unfortunately, they conceded the equalizer against Xherdan Shaqiri in the 88th minute. 1-1 as the clock ticked, and here’s what Zelarayán did and submitted his bid for Goal of the Year:

Columbus is fine at the moment.

RSL were missing a true No. 9 to solidify their attack, but they put it together along the way. Damir Kreilach, Andrés Gómez and Jefferson Savarino have done a good job of keeping things going, including a 3-2 Open Cup quarter-final win over the Galaxy.

Things are about to get a lot better as they have announced the club’s record-breaking signing of Cristian “Chicho” Arango, who was instrumental in the MLS Cup and LAFC’s 2022 Supporters’ Shield season. In 2021, he was named Newcomer of the Year after rocking the league with 14 goals in 17 games. The Colombian is a certified hitter on the field and after a brief uneventful stint in Mexico with Pachuca he is back in the US to continue what he achieved at LAFC. He got the contract he wanted and deserved, was named a designated player and now has the opportunity to make this RSL team a huge addition. Goals will flow and that will surely make life a lot easier for the rest of the attack as they also have more scoring and design options.

General Manager Elliot Fall called Arango a “transformational piece” for the franchise. LAFC knows this is nothing but the truth. Now they can join the rest of MLS to witness the transformation of Utah.



Apart from the Messi hype, this is a really bad team. They’ve lost six league games in a row, shot a header and are bottom in the East. Besides signing Messi, is there any sense of direction? Doesn’t appear to be the case. And you have to be a bit naïve to think that a player, even if he is of Messi’s caliber, could calmly fix this dumpster fire. It would be a different story if midfielders Gregore and Jean Mota weren’t both struggling with long-term injuries.

There are too many obvious gaps in this squad, which seems to have been a problem since the club’s inception. The first task should be a new manager, and according to reports, Gerardo “Tata” Martino is considered the front runner. Maybe he’s just waiting for Messi to officially put his foot down and seal the deal. But Messi is currently in China with the Argentine national team, Tata is doing who knows what and Miami is just squandering points. When Martino (or another new coach) and Messi finally get to South Florida, the hole could be too deep to cross.

The sun hasn’t been shining in LA lately and that’s the perfect metaphor. The Galaxy’s difficulties this season have already been documented, but when things go well for them, more messes will follow.

President Chris Klein’s sacking and subsequent comeback win once again fooled us into thinking they might turn things around. They then moved to RSL, were eliminated from the Open Cup and lost star forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez for that season to a cruciate ligament rupture. For Greg Vanney, it’s literally one thing at a time. Saving a draw in St. Louis on Sunday almost felt like a win for them. That’s how low the bar is currently. And their next opponent is a red-hot SKC.

On the road, things are a bit uphill for black and gold. LAFC have spoiled us all so much that the overreaction is a little absurd when they lose a few games, but the fact is that they have been winless in their last five games and scored just one goal. The attack that relies a little too much on Denis Bouanga is gone.

Losing to León in the CONCACAF Champions League final certainly took a lot out of this side mentally and physically. They tried to lick their wounds with a midweek game against Atlanta in which goaltender Brad Guzan put on an epic display and kept LAFC scoreless on a night they mustered 22 shots. If only one of them had come in, the conversation would have been very different. It’s the same excuse we could use for the CCL finals.

The 4-0 defeat in Houston on Saturday has people concerned. Fatigue is in play, but the schedule doesn’t relax for a nervous Steve Cherundolo and co. Teams making deep CCL runs usually struggle with dips like this. Add in a couple of serious injuries and an ineffective Carlos Vela and you have a complicated problem. Cherundolo has been good at solving those issues for LAFC, but he’s also never seen such a stretch.

How long will the hangover last?

It could officially be a Wooden Spoon watch in Colorado. Nothing goes well, as evidenced by this weekend’s 2-0 loss in Orlando, which left the Rapids with nine men after two red cards. They’ve only won two games this season and their uninspiring squad doesn’t give much cause for hope. Frustration is growing among head coach Robin Fraser and the Rapids, who are just two seasons away from winning the Western Conference.

“We are where we are and we have to get out of here,” he said.

Easier said than done.

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