Lionel Messi is making transition to US look easy as he scores twice for Inter Miami against Atlanta United in Leagues Cup

Some soccer players take time to adapt to a new club and country, but not Lionel Messi.

On Tuesday, Messi powered his Inter Miami team to a dominant 4-0 victory over Atlanta United in the Leagues Cup, scoring twice and assisting another in his first start for his new team.

The Argentine’s two goals mean that he has now registered three goals in 114 minutes since officially moving to the Florida-based club after his match-winning performance in Friday’s debut against Mexican club Cruz Azul.

When Messi arrived in Miami there was little doubt over the commercial viability and impact of his arrival, there were questions from some as to how the 36-year-old would fare in a sporting sense.

If his last-gasp free kick against Cruz Azul wasn’t enough to allay those fears, the ease with which he drifted off Atlanta’s defenders to bring down fellow new import Sergio Busquets’ pass in the eighth minute certainly would have surely convinced any remaining doubters.

Messi slickly gathered the pass before slipping a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper, only for it to rebound off the post back to his feet before the Argentine rolled it into the empty net.

After celebrating with his team, Messi slowed and gestured toward Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham – a reminder of the glitz and glamor, both on and off the pitch, that is transforming the DRV PNK Stadium into a genuine sporting destination.

Just 14 minutes later Messi doubled his tally, feeding Robert Taylor on the left wing before the Finn crossed into the box, leaving the Argentine World Cup winner with a simple tap-in for the 810th goal of his illustrious career.

Taylor’s unselfishness did not go unrewarded by the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, as Inter Miami took advantage of some lacklustre tracking back from the Atlanta defense for the fourth goal.

Messi drew the attention of three players before passing to Taylor, who finished with precision into the far corner to make it 4-0. It marked Taylor’s second goal of the game, having rifled a powerful shot into the right corner of the net just before halftime.

The Messi effect

Messi’s evening finished as you imagine many balmy nights in Fort Lauderdale will – leaving the field to adulatory appreciation in the 78th minute with his work convincingly completed.

Following the game, Messi traded shirts with Atlanta’s Argentine forward Thiago Almada – who missed his side’s best chance of the game when his late penalty kick was saved by Drake Callender.

Almada was a member of Argentina’s World-Cup winning squad alongside Messi – though he only featured in the group stage win over Poland. Almada became the first active MLS player to lift the hallowed trophy.

Inter Miami’s win means it has now qualified for the knockout rounds of the Leagues Cup as Messi looks to catalyse the turnaround in the team’s fortunes. The Leagues Cup, an annual tournament between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX, was expanded this year to include all teams in each league.

While success in the Leagues Cup is no doubt welcome, Miami currently sits last in MLS’ Eastern Conference having won just five of 22 matches so far.

Twelve points currently separate Messi and co. from DC United in ninth, the final playoff spot. The arrival of Messi and Busquets, as well as replacing Phil Neville with Tata Martino as coach, should go some way to bridging that gap when the regular season resumes on August 21.

Its next fixture will be a single elimination game as one of 32 teams to progress to the next stage of the Leagues Cup. The Leagues Cup round-of-32 takes place between August 2 and August 4.

Although Apple TV doesn’t publicly release viewership figures, a video clip of Messi’s goal against Cruz Azul posted by the MLS got more than 214 million views and more than 15 million social media engagements, according to sports analytics company Zoomph.

His signing is also expected to be a boon for Apple’s nascent streaming package, MLS Season Pass. Sports Business Journal, citing industry sources, reports that the subscription packaging is “approaching 1 million subscribers” — and the company expects “that number to balloon even further once Messi starts playing.”

This post appeared first on