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Why didn’t Messi win the MLS Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player MVP Award?

FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta was voted the league’s best player despite Messi joining David Beckham’s Inter Miami in July.

FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta was voted the league’s best player despite Messi joining David Beckham’s Inter Miami in July.

Lionel Messi has won more awards - both individual and collective - than even he can probably remember, including a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or, which was handed to him in October. However, one gong he hasn’t got his hands on - yet - is that of MLS Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player MVP, with FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta this year’s runaway winner.

FC Cincinnati’s Acosta the runaway MLS MVP

Messi’s compatriot amassed a whopping 60.37% of the total votes to win by a landslide from LAFC attacker Denis Bouanga (14.97%) and another Argentine, Thiago Almada of Atlanta United (6.46%). And few could argue that Acosta isn’t a worthy winner - his 17 goals and 14 assists led to The Orange and Blue winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the first time in their history, while they are also in with a chance of doing the MLS Cup double after reaching the Eastern Conference final.

To casual onlookers, the fact Messi wasn’t even voted in the top three may come as something of a surprise. Hasn’t he made a huge impact since moving to Inter Miami in MLS?

Messi’s initial impact leads Inter Miami to Leagues Cup

The 2022 World Cup-winner certainly started with a bang, scoring a free-kick winner on his debut against Liga MX side Cruz Azul and 10 goals in his first seven matches for The Herons, who won the new-and-improved Leagues Cup less than a month after he made his debut.

How many MLS goals has Messi scored? How many games has he played?

However, the 36-year-old has done almost all of his best work in that competition rather than Major League Soccer. After also finding the net on his league debut against New York Red Bulls on 27 August, Messi hasn’t scored an MLS goal since, which may have been forgotten by some.

That can perhaps partly be explained by his well-documented injury issues, which saw him sit out six of Inter Miami’s last nine fixtures of the regular season. In two of the three he did feature in, he was on the field for less than 40 minutes.

All in all, Messi missed as many MLS matches as he played, with his solitary goal in six league appearances understandably nowhere near enough to put him in the MVP conversation.

2024, on the other hand, could be another matter entirely…