Even though the 2024 MLS season is roughly one-third of the way through, Lionel Messi is garnering discussion about breaking the MLS goal-scoring record. Lionel Messi’s goal against the New York Red Bulls brought his total up to 10 on the season. Ironically, he is joined at the top of that chart by teammate Luis Suarez, who secured a hat trick against New York on Saturday.

Yes, it is still early in the 2024 MLS season. Yet, there is a chance Lionel Messi will usurp that single-season scoring record in Major League Soccer. Currently, the high mark belongs to Carlos Vela. The Mexican scored 34 goals in the 2019 MLS Season, doing so in 31 MLS games with LAFC. After 12 games in that season, Vela had 13 goals, so he was ahead of the pace Messi is currently on. However, the Argentine has missed four games. Effectively, he is on just over a goal-per-game ratio. In terms of numbers, Messi is scoring 1.25 goals per game, while Vela’s record-breaking season was 1.1 goals per game. That is a slim, arguably marginal difference. However, the pace would be enough for Messi to break the record, assuming he plays enough games.

In that lies the challenge for Messi and Inter Miami this season. There are no guarantees surrounding how many games Lionel Messi will play in the pink kit of the Florida club. There are several arguments that say as soon as Inter Miami clinches a playoff spot, it should begin to cut Messi’s minutes to ensure he is fit for the playoffs. He has already missed four games this season. Officially, one of those was for rest, but the other three that followed were connected to ever-present muscular problems.

Based on his current ratio, Messi would need to play in 28 MLS games to break Vela’s record and score 35 goals in one MLS season. That assumes he can maintain this remarkable pace, too. It will likely simmer down, but Carlos Vela was a consistent goal-scorer throughout the 2019 MLS campaign. Based on his early success, health may be Messi’s biggest opponent in regard to the record.

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If not MLS goal-scoring record, what else could Messi set?

If Lionel Messi does not break the goal-scoring record in MLS, there is still the potential for other records for Messi. For example, he is already setting the standard in MLS for the future. Through eight games this season, Messi broke several records, some of which were single-game records.

Looking back to the 6-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, Messi set the single-game mark for both goal contributions and assists. His five-assist performance at the weekend was the most in MLS history. Combine those with his goal, and no other MLS player has contributed six goals in one game. It was also the sixth game in a row for Messi to amass multiple goal contributions. In his last four games, Messi has contributed 14 goals with the Argentine scoring six and assisting eight in that span.

In total, he has 22 goal contributions through eight games played in MLS. That is a record for eight games in MLS history, with Miami benefiting greatly. It leads the MLS Eastern Conference with 24 points through 12 games. Moreover, Miami is unbeaten when Messi plays in MLS this season.

Goal contributions are hard to nail down. One assist may be far more impressive than another, much like some goals are penalties and some are world-class efforts. Regardless, MLS attributed five assists to Messi, and that put him atop the MLS assist chart. With 10 assists to go along with his 10 goals, Messi is on track to break the single-season assist record, too. Carlos Valderrama holds that record with 26 assists in 2000. Again, Messi’s current pace would be enough to break that record. It simply comes down to how available Messi is with Inter Miami.