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MLS VP: “Fans who come to watch Messi will fall in love with Cremaschi or Campana”

Nelson Rodríguez, vice president of the MLS, spoke about the state of the league, Lionel Messi and the impact the Argentine has generated.

Nelson Rodríguez, vice president of the MLS, spoke about the league and the Lionel Messi impact

Nelson Rodríguez, MLS vice president spoke to Miami based outlet Infobae and analysed several different topics relating to the league, the arrival of Lionel Messi and where soccer in the United States is going.

Don Garber’s right hand man was frank and forthright confirming that MLS has been given a massive global profile boost with the arrival of Lionel Messi.

“We are advancing much faster than we thought, basically because of his arrival (Messi). It is a true revolution and much more than we expected. This impact that will undoubtedly be felt for years,” he commented.

“The relevance in which MLS has taken off in general media is impressive and so much of this of course is due to Leo. But we are trying to be in the photo, so that this media opening allows us to showcase the entire league. We want to ensure that whoever comes to see Messi play will fall in love with the likes of Cremaschi, or Campana, that’s the idea,” he added.

Rodriguez was asked about what is the most important thing about having someone like the Argentine star in Major League Soccer is.

“Many things, above all credibility and enormous growth potential in every sense, especially in popularity. We have a global chance that perhaps we did not anticipate being so big and we need to react quickly. We have to continue doing basic work and our current focus is on the United States and Canada. We want to grow there first and build good foundations. But at the same time it’s important that we don’t rush into taking steps for which we are not prepared,” he argued.

Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami
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Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami JOE RAEDLEAFP

“We are already reaching more than 100 countries with Apple TV, we have improved infrastructure and we continue to advance with new stadiums and training centers. I do firmly believe that we are becoming a soccer country, but there is a lack of culture in several cities. And that is something that cannot be bought but has to be generated over time, he added.

The Inter Miami boom

Inter Miami are going ‘all in’, today they are investing 135 million in its training center, which will have much more than fields. It is a project that goes beyond football, with a hotel, restaurant and other attractions.”

Speaking on fans who attend an MLS game for the first time, Rodríguez stated.

“We know that we must capture the fan who goes to a game for the first time. We need to capture their imagination with a total experience, from the game to everything that happens in the stands, outside, everything. Let them leave saying ‘I have to return’”.

Inter Miami fans celebrate a goal
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Inter Miami fans celebrate a goal CARMEN MANDATOAFP

The former Chicago Fire executive was also asked about competition with the Saudi Arabian League, who made a major statement with big name summer signings.

“We always compete with Saudi Arabia. Maybe today it is more dangerous for LaLiga than for the MLS but we know that we cannot compete with them in financial terms so we look for other ways, more creative, more our own…And we are not doing badly”

Is MLS at its best as a soccer league?

“Yes, it is having a great period, but tomorrow will be better. I do not have doubts. It was said for a long time that the USA is a sleeping giant in football, well now we can say that we are not sleeping anymore. We have a league that is growing and the Copa América and the World Cup are coming up. “This is just beginning,” he concluded.