Despite playing only six league matches for Inter Miami, Lionel Messi was chosen one of three contenders for Major League Soccer’s Newcomer of the Year award on Thursday.
The 36-year-old striker, who led Argentina to World Cup triumph in Qatar, led Miami to the Leagues Cup title in an August event featuring MLS and Mexican league teams.
Messi made his MLS debut for Miami on August 26 as a second-half substitute, scoring a goal in Inter’s 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, snapping an 11-match losing streak.
But, hampered by a late-season leg injury, Messi was unable to push Miami out of the MLS abyss and into the playoffs.
Messi has been a moneymaker for MLS since signing with Inter Miami in July, thanks to jersey sales and his involvement in increasing sales of MLS season pass viewing subscriptions as well as ticket sales wherever Miami played.
Messi’s opponents for the newcomer award, defined as anyone with professional experience who made their MLS debut this year, are Atlanta United’s Giorgos Giakoumakis and St. Louis City’s Eduard Lowen.
Messi was also nominated for the MLS Most Valuable Player award, although he was not one of the three finalists in that category.
This group comprised MLS Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga, a French-born Gabonese international for Los Angeles FC, Argentine midfielder Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati, and another Argentine standout, Thiago Almada of Atlanta.