May 24, 2024

a Messi craze. Magic by Messi. Whatever you want to call it.

In the U.S. Open Cup semifinal between FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami on Wednesday night, it continued when the Argentine produced a flawless cross into the box to set up the equalizing goal at the very last second. Inter Miami ultimately prevailed on penalties. The Herons reached another trophy final just a few days after taking home the Leagues Cup, the club’s first piece of hardware.

Messi has played for Inter Miami in every game, going 8 for 8. In the Leagues Cup, it dominated the competition, including a commanding 4-1 victory over the Union in Chester. In those eight contests, Messi has 10 goals and three assists.

The Argentine, who is perhaps the best player in the history of the game, has drastically changed Inter Miami as well as the local MLS economy.

Before he joined, Inter Miami was at the bottom of the MLS standings. Since Messi joined, the Herons have not participated in an MLS league game, but they are still there. On Saturday in New York, that changes.

Can Miami go from last place to first? Here are the probabilities.

Inter Miami is one of the favorites in the MLS Cup odds.

This weekend marks the start of the MLS season, and Miami has the fewest points out of all 29 MLS teams. The Herons are now, unsurprisingly, in last position in the Eastern Conference. With 12 games left, they are 5-14-3 and 14 points away from a playoff spot.

However, Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba have fundamentally altered Miami’s calculus. So much so that the Herons are among the favorites to win the MLS Cup according to the oddsmakers.

As of Thursday morning, the following eight teams have odds less than 20/1 to win the MLS Cup:

FC Cincinnati (+500)

Los Angeles FC (phone: +600)

Inter Miami: (600)

— Union Philadelphia: +1000

— Saint Louis City, SC: +1000

+1100 for the New England Revolution

Nashville, SC: 1400

Seattle Sounders: 1 (608)

Clearly, there is a little bit of a Messi Tax issue at play. Bettors will be placing wagers on Messi and his team to succeed. But it’s difficult to contest the fact that Messi, Busquets, and Alba utterly turned Miami around. With the trio in uniform, they haven’t fallen behind, after all.

Statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight recently updated their MLS predictions forecast on June 13, a few weeks before Messi arrived in America, to put some of this in perspective. Miami finished with just 15 points and the poorest goal differential in the league. Miami had a 4% chance of making the playoffs and a 48% chance of finishing last in the conference according to the FiveThirtyEight model, while the Herons were predicted to complete the season with 32 points (the current point total for Chicago, the final Eastern Conference playoff team).

The implied likelihood for Miami to win the MLS Cup is 14.3% based on their 6/1 odds at BetMGM.

Top scorer: Messi is expected to have a successful run.

Do you want more Messi math?

Messi was the favorite Thursday morning at BetMGM to end the regular season with the most goals despite the fact that he has zero MLS goals (Miami’s eight games with Messi have all been in other competitions). Hany Mukhtar is now leading with 13 goals.

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