Lionel Messi moment: Major League Soccer, Apple, and Adidas all rely on the legend’s left foot

Lionel Messi He always invoked a sense of inevitability, an unwavering belief by his teammates and fans that it would result in the biggest moments – and perhaps something amazing.

That feeling was in the air on Friday night, when Messi made his debut for Inter Miami before a packed South Florida crowd that included LeBron James and Serena Williams And Kim kardashian. In the dying seconds of the game, and with Inter Miami tied 1-1 against Mexican team, Cruz Azul, Messi committed a foul about seven yards outside the penalty area and 25 yards from goal, an auspicious spot with his deadly left foot. . What happened next was a foregone conclusion: Messi swept the free kick around the wall of Cruz Azul defenders and slammed the ball into the net, securing the victory for his new team.

After that, Messi’s teammate Inter Miami Kamal Miller Surprised “That the whole crowd expected the ball to go there, and put it there.” Inter Miami coach Gerard Martino He called it “a movie we’ve seen before”. “It’s common for him, you know,” Martino said He said. “It looks completely normal, but it isn’t.”

More than 12 hours after the match, Taylor Twellman He was still in disbelief. Twellman, lead commentator for Apple TV’s coverage of Major League Soccer, was on the call for Friday night’s game. But forget the dramatic goal: Twellman still can’t believe Messi ever came to MLS.

“No one ever thought it was going to be real,” Twellman, a former MLS star of the New England Revolution, told me Saturday. “I think it’s the pinnacle moment in the history of this league.”

Arriving in the United States eight months after reaching the top, Messi led Argentina to the World Cup title in December. And while the outlook here wouldn’t be dire in Messi’s soccer-obsessed homeland, Major League Soccer and its backers are still pretty optimistic about the goats. Inter Miami Managing Owner Jorge however make audacity note This month, “Messi can make Major League Soccer one of the three best leagues in the world.”

“Perhaps the most transformative moment in league history,” said the MLS Commissioner Don Garber He told me a few hours before kick-off on Friday. “So, there is no doubt.”

Messi announced last month that he would join his co-owner, Inter Miami David Beckham Instead of returning to his former club Barcelona or accepting a lucrative offer to play in the Saudi League, which includes stars like Cristiano Ronaldo. It took a league-wide effort to bring Messi to Miami, with MLS and its business partners teaming up to get the deal over the line. mas has He said In interviews, Messi reportedly made between $50 million and $60 million a year through his two-and-a-half-year contract with Inter Miami, but Messi will also reportedly get paid. reduce revenue From Adidas, the league’s official apparel provider, and Apple, which just kicked off a 10-year broadcast deal with MLS this season. In engineering such an elaborate agreement, MLS has shown as much confidence in Messi’s ability to increase exposure to the league as his fellow left-footers do.

“For a long time, the focal point of the sport has been the countries that were basically the birthplaces of the game,” says Garber. “Now the eyes of the world are on the United States and Canada. You see that with the fact that the best player in the world is coming here.”

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