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For better or worse, Messi takes MLS to the next level

In recent weeks, Messi’s arrival in MLS has changed everything. The fabulous soccer player has brought credibility to the league on a level no one else had been able to achieve.

He’s made people more and more interested in a league that was already enjoying good growth, but is now on another level following the arrival of one of the greatest players in history.

Even though he’s only been here six games, he’s already put his team back in the playoff hunt.

And why is that? Because, despite his 36 well-counted springs, he’s still too strong for the league. His nine goals in six games show just how much he can do with the ball.

By necessity, it puts MLS in the spotlight. A lot of people who don’t necessarily like soccer are interested in going to see a match when Messi is in town. And that’s normal.

Seeing MLS work with (among others) Apple to bring the legend to Florida shows just how important this was to the people in the MLS offices.

Having said that, I can still see that there’s a price to be paid for fame. Why is that? Because the price of tickets to see Messi play has skyrocketed since he first set foot in North America.

For example? Those who want to see Inter Miami against Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup will have to break their piggy bank… and steal their neighbor’s, too.

And why? Because right now, on SeatGeek, a resale site, the cheapest ticket (I did say a ticket, not a pair) is, at the time of writing, $792 in US currency.

That’s a far cry from the price of CF Montreal. It’s not the same show, but still: not everyone wants to pay that price for MLS soccer, with or without Messi. It’s not PSG, let’s say.

Note that we’re talking about a Cup in the middle of the season (which is not abnormal in soccer culture) and not a playoff game. It’s still a game two months away from the playoffs… and tickets aren’t purchasable.

I’m not saying that Messi’s arrival is a bad thing. Quite the contrary: in sporting terms, it’s great. Gary Bettman may not be happy, but that’s okay.

But still: on the same site, the next game in Miami is not available for less than US$266 a ticket. To see Messi in Los Angeles? It’ll be at least 1,000 bucks a ticket. The ticket. In US dollars.

If a young fan wants to get interested in soccer and wants his father to take him to see Messi, there’s a good chance his father will tell him he can’t afford it at that price.

Sometimes, when the Habs are playing afternoon games and the CH players are playing like crap, there’s a headline in the Antechamber along the lines of “poor Gabriel”, to symbolize the fact that the eight-year-old fan didn’t get a good show in his only Bell Centre appearance of the year.

But there will be more and more Gabriels who can’t even go to MLS games. That’s just what I think is a shame… even if I understand the game very well from a business point of view.

In short

– If Gabriel wants to watch sports, this is the place.

– A defenseman to watch.

– Sean Monahan is healthy.

– Really?

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