Lionel Messi is the latest star to join MLS. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi made his Inter Miami debut Friday in the League Cup against Mexican side Cruz Azul. He waited until the last moment to make an impact.
Inter Miami notched a 2-1 win at home after Messi converted a 94th-minute free kick to break a 1-1 tie, a perfect start for a tenure MLS hopes brings unprecedented attention to the growing league. Messi had entered as a sub in the 54th minute alongside longtime teammate Ricardo Busquets.
The FC Barcelona legend officially signed with Inter Miami last week and made a rain-soaked introduction, but the real beginning came on the field, where he has dominated for the better part of two decades. Messi agreed to join MLS despite a reportedly titanic offer from Saudi Arabia and overtures from his old Barcelona club.
Messi’s move to Inter Miami came months after the most cathartic success of his career, Argentina’s triumph at the 2022 World Cup last winter. He might not be the unstoppable machine he used to be on offense, but expectations are still high.
Messi remains a record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner with 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Barcelona, in addition to a decorated international career. That will be a marked contrast to Inter Miami, which has languished in last place this year with a 5-3-14 record.