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MLS Commissioner Urges Clubs to Leverage Messi's Presence

MLS commissioner Don Garber says it is up to individual clubs, not the league, to capitalize on Lionel Messi's presence in the competition.

MLS commissioner Don Garber recently emphasized that it is the responsibility of individual clubs, rather than the league itself, to capitalize on Lionel Messi's presence in the competition. In an interview with ESPN's Luis Miguel Echegaray, Garber discussed various topics, including strategies for building on the success of the inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup.

When asked how the New York Red Bulls should make the most of Messi's presence when Inter Miami visits Red Bull Arena on August 26, Garber explained that it is up to the local clubs to cultivate their fan base. He stated that the league will not dictate how teams should act when facing a high-profile player like Messi.

Garber shared his perspective, saying, "If I were a coach or a general manager, or even the president of a club, and I heard Jim Curtin say this in Philadelphia, I would encourage fans to come out and support their team. It's an opportunity for the Philadelphia Union to potentially win another trophy, despite the excitement of seeing someone like Messi in a different jersey. These decisions are ultimately in the hands of our teams."

The Leagues Cup, which saw Miami emerge as the champions after a penalty shootout victory against Nashville, received significant attention and generated immense excitement. Garber expressed his delight with the tournament's success in its inaugural year. He highlighted the uniqueness of the competition, as it brings together two border-connected professional soccer leagues to determine the dominant force.

Garber acknowledged that adjustments and enhancements are expected for any new tournament, and the Leagues Cup is no exception. He mentioned the need to evaluate the calendar and ensure that the competition fits well with other events in the coming years. Collaboration with Concacaf on operational aspects, such as officiating, will also be a priority during the offseason.

Looking ahead, Garber emphasized that MLS is not solely focused on one player, even a player as extraordinary as Messi. He stressed the importance of building a strong foundation and fostering a sense of community within the league. While Messi can undoubtedly bring something special to a club, Garber emphasized that MLS has had numerous great players throughout its history, and the league's essence goes beyond any individual player.

In conclusion, Garber's remarks underscore the significance of individual clubs taking initiative to maximize the opportunities presented by players like Messi. The success of the Leagues Cup's inaugural edition has set the stage for future growth and improvements, which will be carefully considered during the offseason. MLS remains committed to its core values and the overall fan experience, recognizing that while exceptional players can enhance the excitement, the league's strength lies in its collective spirit.

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