RedState Sports Report: The M and L in MLS Now Stands for Messi, Lionel

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Greetings from the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState. Your intrepid reporter trio — yours truly, along with Sammy the Shark and Karl the Kraken — are rippin’, roarin’, and ready to go. For those keeping tabs on RedState’s favorite sea monsters, Sammy still refuses to trade his Erik Karlsson action figure to Sammy or Perry the Penguin whenever he stops by. However, that may shortly change.


Today, we turn our attention to soccer. No, not the Women’s World Cup. Instead, we focus on soccer people watch. Like it or not, soccer is the world’s #1 sport, which, to the sport’s detractors, helps explain why the world is in such sad shape. But I digress.

Lionel Messi, arguably one of if not the greatest soccer player in history (personally, I believe it’s Pelé), recently shocked the entire sports world when he signed a contract to play for MLS team Inter Miami CF. Based on Inter Miami’s kit, or, as the civilized world calls them, jersey, Messi is a big Fabulous Poodles fan, this despite being born seven years after the bank broke up. Or, Pink Floyd if you prefer a less obscure reference.

While at 36, Messi is past his prime, he can still play the game at a level few, if any, can touch. At the time of this writing (August 4), in three games with Inter Miami, only two of which he started, Messi has racked up five goals and an assist. His first away game, in that legendary hotbed of soccer mania otherwise known as Dallas, sold out in 15 minutes for a stadium that holds 20,500. I’m shocked Jerry Jones didn’t suggest moving the game to AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play, as it can hold 85,000 fans and up the number to 105,000 if you include standing room only. That might have taken an hour to sell out.


Along those lines, while rescheduling venues for this season is probably too much of a hassle for most teams, it is a given that the 2024 MLS schedule for every team hosting Inter Miami will feature the largest nearest facility available. Are the football (as they call soccer elsewhere) flamingoes coming to pay the Columbus Crew a call? Forget their home stadium and its 22,555 capacity. Hello, Ohio Stadium and its 102,780 seats. San Jose Earthquakes the destination? Pass on PayPal Park, and its puny 18,000 or so. Instead, hello to the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and its 68,500. Messi in a town near you will be the hottest ticket since Taylor Swift, with 75% less chance of being overcome by bubblegum fumes.

Do you want to be stylin’ and profilin’ while demonstratin’ you’re sufficiently comfortable in your masculinity to wear pink in public? You better order that Messi jersey now. You might get it in October. Or December. Presumably this year. Adidas reportedly has manufacturing facilities in 48 countries around the globe, with Messi jerseys now being cranked out 24/7 in all of them plus any neighboring countries with an available warehouse and pink dye supply.


Ignoring the annoying habit of MLS teams patterning their names after overseas teams, unless you think Real Salt Lake, about as native to Utah as the Utah Jazz, came organically, the league has done remarkably well in carving out its niche. Soccer will never be a significant sport in the United States on par with football, baseball, basketball, or hockey. That said, the arrival of Lionel Messi in MLS may well be enough to tempt the average sports fan who usually would rather watch paint dry than soccer to check the game out and see what the fuss is about, which can’t hurt.

Bienvenido, Messi.


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