Lionel Messi nominated for MLS Newcomer of the Year Award despite playing fewer than 400 minutes

Lionel Messi of Inter Miami playing in the MLS | Photo Credit: AP

FOOTBALL Lionel Messi nominated for MLS Newcomer of the Year Award despite playing fewer than 400 minutes

Joel Omotto 09:00 - 28.10.2023

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is among finalists for the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award after playing just six matches in the Major League Soccer this year

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been nominated for the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award despite playing just six games in the Major League Soccer this year.

Major League Soccer defines the criteria for its Newcomer of the Year Award as “a player who had previous professional experience and made his MLS debut in 2023,” which means Messi fits the bill.

The Inter Miami mid-season signing was named as a finalist for the award, alongside Atlanta United striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and Eduard Lowen of St Louis City SC.

It’s no real surprise that Messi’s name is there. He’s racked up 11 goals and five assists since joining Miami in July, after all.

However, only one of those goals and two of those assists have been in MLS play, with the others coming in the Leagues Cup, which he led Miami to win, and the US Open Cup. Messi has played fewer than 400 minutes in MLS.

However, the superstar’s impact on American soccer goes far beyond just his on-field presence and output. For the league, he has been a lucrative marketing sensation, and that has undoubtedly played a role in his nomination.

Messi is not only a one-in-three shot to win the newcomer award but he was also on the 30-player longlist for the MLS MVP award. He didn’t make the top three there, though; one of FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta, Atlanta midfielder Thiago Almada — a World Cup-winning Argentina teammate of Messi’s — and LAFC’s MLS golden boot winner Denis Bouanga will be crowned MVP.

Meanwhile, no representative of a Canadian club has been nominated for any award, although Toronto FC’s entire season would surely have Worst Season wrapped up if MLS did a version of the Razzies.

Vancouver Whitecaps’ “working-class MVP” Ryan Gauld has been overlooked, while former CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy is one of three finalists for the Coach of the Year award as recognition for his good work in Columbus with the Crew.

The MLS awards are voted on by current MLS players and coaches, MLS club executives and high-level staff, and select media members. Winners will be announced throughout the MLS playoffs.

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