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WCHS Insight

The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The rise of soccer in America

Uruguayan striker, Luiz Suarez, reunited with his former Barcelona teammates. Lionel Messi at the far left with a drink in his hand, Luis Suarez next to him, then Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Suarez ended 2023 winning as best player and best striker for his season at Brasileirao after 17 league goals with Gremio. Photo by Jaime Uribarri

Following Argentina’s win in the 2022 World Cup, multiple professionals such as Lionel Messi joined Major League Soccer (MLS), the sport’s highest level in the United States. The arrival of European stars had a strong impact on all aspects of soccer, especially economically. According to the CNN article “Messi’s next match is the most expensive Major League Soccer game ever,” prices of tickets surged nearly 900% since speculation began that Messi was coming to the U.S in early June. The prices for his MLS debut against Charlotte were averaging around $228, according to Vivid Seats.

Since joining Inter Miami and reuniting with his former Barcelona teammates, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi’s jersey launch became MLS’s most sold kit for 2023 within 45 minutes. This allowed the football club to set a league record for revenue on in just a single year. According to the club’s chief business officer, Xavier Asensi, Inter Miami’s total revenue increased by $120 million since the arrival of Messi in July.

According to the sports department of The New York Times, The Athletic, Inter Miami added 1,200 extra seats to their home stadium. New seating sections in the south-west corner and increased capacity in the north-east and south-east corners were added due to “unprecedented demand”. This brings the capacity of their stadium up to 21,550 people, making it the stadium’s second expansion in recent months.

“I think there will always be a before and after Messi when we talk about the sport in the United States. I have a very, very strong held belief that we can create in North America and the United States if not the greatest league, one of the top two leagues in the world. I cannot overemphasize the magnitude of this announcement,” said Inter Miami’s manager, Jorge Mas, during an interview with Miami Herald, an American daily newspaper.

On Dec. 22, 2023, Inter Miami announced that they’ve signed the iconic Uruguayan striker, Luis Suarez. The UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, and Conmebol Copa América winner and five-time La Liga champion was set to reunite with his former Barcelona teammates and play through the 2024 season with an option to extend his contract to 2025.

With the signing of another historical player, it raises questions for the future of MLS and the player’s impact on the league. The signing of another player known for his talent and achievements in the sport draws in more attention to the league. Not just with fans but also people with passion for the game to raise the level of competition in America. With his ability to bring in more fans, investors, and media headlines, the league’s market value could increase.

“Since Messi came I’ve heard a lot more people talking about soccer. Although other good players like Chicharito shouldn’t be slept on as they do a lot for MLS,” said senior Erick Alvarado.

For the 2024 season Inter Miami will have four tournaments to play in, CONCACAF Champions Cup, Leagues Cup, U.S. Open Cup and MLS. However this year is also the Conmebol Copa América, which could “distract” Messi and Suarez. The Copa América is the South American Football Championship, contested among national teams from South America and it is the oldest existing continental football competition.

On August 19, 2023 at Geodis Park, Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup with Messi for the first time, defeating Nashville SC during the penalty shootout after the game ended in a tie with both teams scoring one goal by Lionel Messi and Fafà Picault. Making it the first trophy won by the club, Inter Miami earned $2 million as prize money and qualified for the round of 16 in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup.

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