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Trophies that Lionel Messi can win with Inter Miami in USA: MLS, CONCACAF, individual silverware up for grabs

Lionel Messi will arrive at Inter Miami with high expectations.

Largely considered the best player to ever play the game, Messi will begin the next chapter of his career in the United States, moving from PSG to a struggling Inter Miami side which he’ll be expected to transform.

Expected to make his Inter Miami debut on July 21, Messi will have a significant weight on his shoulders, and will be expected to perform from the start in a league where many believe he should dominate.

Despite Inter Miami’s issues this season, Messi can still help salvage the season for the club. Here is a breakdown of all the trophies that Messi will be competing for during his time in Major League Soccer in 2023 and beyond.

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Trophies Lionel Messi can win with Inter Miami

Messi may have recently said that he’s accomplished all there is to accomplish in football, but there is a host of silverware in North America that he can still add to his trophy cabinet:


Major League Soccer awards two main trophies for the league season, and the MLS Cup is the most prestigious of the two.

With the MLS season split into the regular season and playoffs, the MLS Cup is the award handed out to the champion at the end of the playoffs.

Considered the most coveted trophy of the league season, Lionel Messi can win the MLS Cup if he can help guide Inter Miami to the playoffs. Any team that makes the playoffs has a chance to win MLS Cup if they can survive the bracket.

As of Messi’s announcement that he will be joining Inter Miami, the club sat seven points away from the final playoff spot up for grabs in the Eastern Conference. 

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MLS Supporters’ Shield

The Supporters’ Shield is the second league trophy awarded by Major League Soccer, given to the team that most points during the regular season, regardless of conference.

While the MLS Cup is still awarded to the last team left standing in the playoffs, and is considered to crown the true “champions,” the Supporters’ Shield is often considered a better measure to gauge the best team in the league, given the consistency of excellence required to win the Shield over the course of a long season.

In his first season with Inter Miami, it’s essentially impossible for Messi to win the 2023 Supporters’ Shield given how far behind they are at the end of June, and the number of teams they would have to overtake. But they will surely be among the favorites in 2024 and 2025.

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U.S. Open Cup

Every nation has its own domestic cup tournament, and the United States is no different.

The cup tournament in the USA is called the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Contested since 1913, the competition was re-named in 1999 to recognize one of the most dedicated owners in the history of the sport in the United States. 

In its 108th edition, the 2023 U.S. Open Cup saw 99 teams participate from all across the U.S. soccer pyramid, including all 26 MLS teams based in the USA. MLS teams enter later in the competition and compete against USL Championship (2nd division), USL League One (3rd division), NISA (also 3rd division), and NPSL (semi-pro), and amateur entrants.

In his first season at Inter Miami, this trophy is actually still in play for Lionel Messi, although they’ve been given a tough task. Inter Miami are into the semifinals, but they are scheduled to travel to face FC Cincinnati, who are among the best MLS teams in 2023.

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CONCACAF Champions Cup

This competition for clubs teams is the equivalent of the Champions League in North America with CONCACAF standing for “Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Association Football.” 

It used to be called the CONCACAF Champions League to align with its sister competitions in Europe, Africa, and Asia, but in 2024 the competition will be reformatted, expanding to 27 teams and taking on a slightly new name.

In order to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, Inter Miami must either:

  • win MLS Cup
  • finish in first place in the Eastern Conference regular season
  • finish among the top four points-getters in MLS
  • win the U.S. Open Cup
  • or finish among the top three in Leagues Cup (more info below)

Only one MLS team has ever won the CONCACAF Champions Cup since 2000, with the Seattle Sounders winning in 2022. LAFC reached the final in 2023, but fell to Mexico’s Club Leon.

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Leagues Cup

The Leagues Cup is a brand new competition featuring every club in MLS and Liga MX — 47 in total — coming together to decide the best team from the two heavyweight leagues in North America. Both MLS and Liga MX will take a break from domestic play from late July through late August to contest the event.

It starts with a group stage and then moves on to a knockout bracket featuring 32 teams: 30 come from the group stage, and they will joining the two league champions from the previous season who receive a bye to the knockouts.

Inter Miami were drawn into a group with MLS club Atlanta United and Mexican side Cruz Azul, who finished eighth in the most recent Liga MX league competition. Lionel Messi is expected to make his Inter Miami debut against Cruz Azul on July 21 at home, with the next match against Atlanta United four days later, also coming at home.

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Campeones Cup

Established in 2018, the Campeones Cup is another MLS vs. Liga MX competition that pits the previous league winners from each nation against each other.

Therefore, in order to qualify for the Campeones Cup, Inter Miami would have to win the MLS Cup the previous year.

The 2023 Campeones Cup will feature defending MLS champion LAFC taking on Mexican champions Tigres. Because the Liga MX season is divided into two parts (the Apertura and the Clausura), they hold a one-off match known as the Campeon de Campeones, to determine the champion to advance to Campeones Cup.

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Individual awards Lionel Messi can win with Inter Miami

Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award

The most prestigious individual domestic award that Lionel Messi could win during his time with Inter Miami would be the MVP award, given out to the best player in a given MLS season.

It’s unlikely that Messi would have a reasonable shot at the 2023 MVP award, given he’ll only be joining for roughly the final third of the campaign. But if he electrifies the league, it shouldn’t be ruled out. He certainly will have a chance to win this award in 2024 or 2025 given his talent level compared to other players in the league.

The award is named after former USMNT great Landon Donovan, who made his mark with the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy.

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MLS Golden Boot

Like any league, Major League Soccer awards a Golden Boot to the league’s top scorer in a given season.

Again, like with the MVP award, it’s unlikely that Messi will have enough time to catch the leaders for 2023 based on the number of matches remaining and the number of goals he would need to catch up.

Hany Mukhtar was the MLS Golden Boot leader as of July 1, having scored 13 goals in 20 league games thus far for Nashville SC. If two or more players are tied at the top of the standings, the tiebreaker is assists, which Messi also excels at collecting.

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Can Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’Or?

If Lionel Messi absolutely obliterates Major League Soccer and continues to have success with Argentina at the international level, many might wonder whether he could make a run at the Ballon d’Or from North America.

The only issue is that he would not be eligible. The Ballon d’Or is only awarded to a player at a European club.

Until 1995, the award was only given to European-born players, but the criteria was expanded to include players from around the world. Still, they must play for a European-based club to be eligible for the award.

MORE: Lionel Messi’s career Ballon d’Or trophies

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