There is making an instant impact, and then there’s what Lionel Messi has done in his first month in MLS with Inter Miami, who face Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final on Saturday.
In five games since joining Miami, Messi has led the team to six straight wins in the Leagues Cup with an aggregate score of 21-7. Messi has scored nine of those goals and assisted on four others, finding the back of the net in every game so far.
The most recent win: a 4-1 domination of the Philadelphia Union, last year’s MLS runner-up.
The run is an incredible reversal for Inter Miami, which entered the tournament (and still remains) in last place in MLS with a record of 5-3-14. The turnaround isn’t solely attributable to Messi, or rather Messi as only a player. Miami has also hired Messi’s former manager at FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team Gerardo Martino and signed two of his longest-tenured Barcelona teammates in Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
That group now leads Miami into the Leagues Cup final, where they can win the five-year-old franchise’s first title, 34 days after Messi was introduced at DRV PNK Stadium. They will face Nashville, who sit in fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference with a record of 11-5-8.
To reach the final, Nashville defeated Monterrey 2-0 in the semifinals and Minnesota 5-0 in quarterfinals.
Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at Nasville’s Geodis Park and can be streamed with MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Bet MGM has Inter Miami as a -160 favorite to hoist the trophy. You can follow along live here: