Greece’s Giakoumakis, not Messi, named top MLS newcomer

Argentine World Cup hero Lionel Messi won his eighth Ballon d’Or on Monday and brought global attention to Major League Soccer, but settled for second-best on Thursday in voting for MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Atlanta United forward Giorgos Giakoumakis of Greece won the award announced by MLS after scoring a team-high 17 goals for the club this season.

MLS says the award “recognizes the year’s most impactful player who had prior professional experience and made their MLS debut during the 2023 regular season.”

Messi only made his mid-season MLS arrival at Inter Miami in July and didn’t play his first official MLS match until late August, unable to lift the club from the basement into the playoffs.

Yet it would be difficult to deny the impact of Messi as a moneyspinner for the league, having boosted the purchases of MLS season match packages and souvenir sales while becoming a huge ticket draw in every venue where Miami played.

Messi helped Miami to the Leagues Cup crown, giving his team its first hardware in the new event that featured MLS and Mexican league clubs.

In the voting breakdown by MLS players, media and technical staff, Messi was the choice of MLS players with 35.54% of the vote to 34.34% for Giakoumakis.

Club staffers, however, went for the Greek striker by 46.34% to 34.15% and media votes were overwhelmingly for Giakoumakis at 56.65% to 12.14% for Messi and 20.23% for the other finalist, German Eduard Löwen of St. Louis City.

Giakoumakis is the second Atlanta United player in a row to win the top newcomer award after Thiago Almada, Messi’s Argentine national team colleague, in 2022.



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