Written by Journalism Staff Reporter Martha Perez
June 7th, Lionel Messi, debatably the best soccer player in the world, shocked fans globally. He announced his leave from Europe, on a quest to the States. Announcing his rejection on returning to long-time and beloved club, FC Barcelona, he issued a statement making his transfer to Inter Miami public. Leaving Parisian streets behind, and landing in the South beaches of Florida, American fans became ecstatic at the thought of seeing him play. For long time fans, such as myself, it was a bittersweet feeling. As he enters Major League Soccer, he commences the last years of his career. But it will also mean a better chance at seeing him play live, a dream for many.
Following many of the greats before him, his decision to move to North America marked periods of momentous change. Kaka, David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and the late Pele are a few of players who have come to MLS each leaving their mark on North American soccer. Messi’s immediate impact can be seen by all spectators. As Inter Miami is yet to lose a match since his arrival, their chances for the MLS cup have significantly grown. The league itself has undergone notable changes in the past month. Messi has increased viewers and the overall success of MLS. His impact can be seen physically by the crowds that fill stadium seats and the sky rocketing jersey sales. The other teams in the league must also prepare when playing on the pitch with the now notable team.
There was no official date for his debut, but with the internet, nothing stays a secret for long. It was soon revealed that his potential debut would be in Miami’s first game of the League’s Cup. Even with no confirmation, fans and many celebrities showed up in hopes to see him. Crowds with #10 on their backs filled the DRV PNK Stadium in downtown Miami. To no one’s surprise on July 21st, the Argentine prodigy was substituted. Immediately turning the game in Miami’s favor, Messi scored a killer free kick in extra time, thus securing a spot in the tournament and giving the first glimpse to the audience of what Miami would now be displaying. Throughout the League’s cup, Messi turned Inter Miami from the worst team in the Eastern conference and MLS to first time League Cup champions. But he is not alone. Accompanying him are Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, also ex FC Barcelona players. With an incredible roster including former Atlanta United player and top scorer Josef Martinez, and rising star Benjamin Cremaschi, Inter Miami’s new roster has taken the rest of MLS by storm. The new and transformed Inter Miami is as many would say, “the dream team.” But can this time of success be maintained when Messi’s on international duty? Time may only tell.
Inter Miami is continuing to make improvements behind the scenes and on the field as their audience has grown to a global scale. The world of soccer is only growing in North America with many prestigious names being added to rosters. Messi has touched American soil, and the impact can be seen as he leads the way for Miami’s success.