Messi Can't Really Win The MLS Golden Boot, Can He?

Could Messi Really Win MLS Golden Boot?

Messi has yet to play a game at the MLS level for his new club Inter Miami, but the GOAT is getting consideration for this season's Golden Boot. His odds are at a crazy +600.

Miami has 11 games left in the MLS regular season. That probably doesn't sound like enough runway, but current MLS top scorer, Hany Mukhtar scored his 13 goals in 13 games. And with all due respect to Mukhtar, he's no Lionel Messi.

So can Messi do it? Here's a breakdown of his chances.

Lionel Messi's Odds To Win Golden Boot

Again, there are 11 games left in Inter Miami's MLS season. Here's what that schedule looks like.

Miami's Schedule
Date (Home Games)OpponentDate (Away Games)Opponent
August 20CharlotteAugust 26NY Red Bulls
August 30Nashville SCSeptember 4LAFC
September 9Sporting KCSeptember 16Atlanta United
September 20Toronto FCSeptember 24Orlando City
September 30New York City FCOctober 4Chicago Fire
October 7FC Cincinnati  

 

There are some good squads on this list. Cincinnati, Nashville, LAFC and Orlando are all in the top 10 of the MLS for points. So you might doubt Messi can do it. But rather than simply look at where these future opponents are in the standings, let's take a look at how these teams are doing defensively. Is that defense getting better or worse?

Of the 11 sides Miami will face through the rest of the schedule, seven have regressed defensively in the specific context of where they'll play against Miami (whether at home or away).

Defensive Issues
OpponentLast 5*Season*Difference
Charlotte2.01.9-0.1
@Red Bulls1.61.1-0.5
Nashville1.61.2-0.4
@LAFC1.00.8-0.2
Kansas2.21.6-0.6
@Atlanta1.61.3-0.3
Toronto2.21.8-0.4
@Orlando0.81.00.2
NYCFC1.21.20
@Chicago11.10.1
Cincinnati1.61.60

*Goals against per 90

That has to have Messi and his Inter Miami squad licking their chops. We've already seen Messi's goal-scoring magic. He's got 7 goals on just under three and a half expected goals in four League Cup games.

Only Orlando, NYCFC, Chicago and Cincinnati have seen their defensive record stay steady or improve. But that won't bother Messi much, he scored twice against Orlando.

 

So we know goals come in bunches at this level, even for players of lesser talent than Messi (call back to Mukhtar's 13 in 13). And we know that Messi will be going up against some squads that are straight-up struggling defensively. Oh, and Messi himself is scoring goals like crazy right now with seven in his last four games.

But we've got more to consider than just his opponent's form.

International Duty + Turf

I mentioned the short runway Messi has to put up the necessary goals and who he's facing in those games. But I hadn't considered games Messi might miss. An...X (formerly Twitter) user made a great point when I pushed this article on my social:

The user is right. Argentina has qualification games for the 2026 FIFA World Cup against Ecuador and Bolivia on September 7 and September 12. That means Messi could miss the KC game on September 9. That reduces his runway to win the scoring title to 10 games.

But on the subject of playing on turf, Messi himself spoke. The GOAT told reporters that while he hasn't played on turf in a while, he did play on it a bunch as a kid. So he has no issue doing so again.

That means games at Atlanta and Charlotte should feature Messi. The number of missed games might be one. 

If he scores the 1.43 goals per game in the MLS as he did through the Leagues Cup, which is a ridiculous amount of goals, Messi would put himself on pace for ~14 goals. Hanny Muktar would need to only score 2-3 goals in order to effectively lock up the Golden Boot. 

Lionel Messi Golden Boot Alternative Bets

Ok. Say you either don't want to tie up a portion of your bankroll in a futures bet or don't believe he'll win the Golden Boot, how else can you get in on the fun? Goal props, baby!

In the Leagues Cup against Orlando, Messi's anytime goal odds were at -175. That's a nearly $16 payout on a $10 bet. When play resumes for the MLS, I would expect his anytime goal line to fluctuate between +100 and -200. Even at -200, you're looking at a $15 payout on a $10 bet when Messi hits the back of the net.

But anytime goal bets aren't the only way to make money off of Messi's scoring.

Against sides like Charlotte, Kansas and Toronto you might want to add the "two goals or more" prop to your ticket. All three sides have allowed 2+ goals in their last five games, not to mention they're some of the worst defenses in the league. Messi should tear them up!

The odds should be pretty juicy for two or more goals. When he scored his brace against Orlando (a better defensive squad), his odds for two or more goals were at +225. And he hit it.

That night versus Orlando, had you bet $10 on the following markets, you would have made 7.6 units of straight profit. 

  • Anytime goal
  • First goal
  • Last goal
  • two goals or more

So, you could sit around and wait for that +600 futures bet to maybe hit, or you can ride along game by game and make bank as Messi PwNs MLS defenders.