If you lived under a rock this summer and didn’t watch any of the highlights of Lionel Messi’s introduction to MLS, Messi Meets America is the best way to review highlights of all of Messi’s golazos and exciting moments from Inter Miami’s Leagues Cup run.
If you’re expecting anything other than that — such as some insight into Messi, the man not the footballer, or any eye-opening behind-the-scenes footage — prepare to be disappointed. Messi Meets America is a promotional series made to sell Messi and Major League Soccer to America.
In short, Messi Meets America is mostly highlights combined with a string of interviews with MLS players and employees to retell the story of Messi’s journey for Inter Miami in the 2023 Leagues Cup. And what a magnificent highlight reel it is. However, after watching episodes one through three, I don’t know anything new about Messi than I did before I started watching the series. That lack of depth and insight into Messi is unfortunate.
Timing is everything
Released on October 11, right at the start of the international break when a lot of soccer fans checked out, Apple and MLS couldn’t have picked a worse time to release the first three episodes of Messi Meets America. That combined with Inter Miami failing to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs and having nothing left to play makes it hard to get excited. On top of that is the sense that the Messi mania is over, at least for this season.
Why Apple and MLS waited almost two months to release Messi Meets America, instead of releasing it shortly after the Leagues Cup victory, is unclear. Just as Adidas was unable to capitalize on selling Messi jerseys after he joined the club when the merchandise was only available on pre-order, this is another missed opportunity by MLS.
Outside of the highlights and interviews in Messi Meets America, is this the best that Apple can do? So many insiders have talked up Apple’s amazing marketing skills as well as their expertise in producing films and series. I had high expectations of Apple’s storytelling skills to give us more insight into Messi, the man, but this one falls flat.
Perhaps Messi Meets America can turn a corner, and improve in episodes four through six, which will be released in future months. Executive Producer Scott Boggins had this to say when I asked him if we could see better behind-the-scenes coverage in future episodes:
“You’ll see throughout the series that there will be moments of locker room [footage], and there will be wonderful moments where we capture Lionel at home,” Boggins said. “We’re very fortunate that we have incredible partners at MLS, Inter Miami, and the Messi group to be able to do this.”
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No need to exaggerate Messi
What’s also lacking are interviews with independent voices in the series. For example, the vast majority of people interviewed in the film are either MLS employees or people who always say only positive things about the league. So what you end up with is a series that feels like a promotional video.
For instance, there is no deep analysis of Beckham’s decision to hire his friend and former colleague Phil Neville as a coach, whom he ultimately had to fire. All we got is Beckham, who is partly to blame, saying that the results under the former coach weren’t good enough.
What we also get in this series is a lot of hyperbole. For example, MLS lead co-commentator Taylor Twellman describes Tata Martino as “one of the best managers in the history of the game.” Those types of over-the-top opinions are unnecessary. Martino is a great coach, but he isn’t even one of the best Argentine managers in the history of the game. Is he better than Marcelo Bielsa, Jorge Sampaoli, Mauricio Pochettino, or César Luis Menotti? Certainly not.
Messi Meets America review: Conclusion
Messi Meets America is a puff piece created by Apple and MLS to help sell Apple TV+ subscribers on MLS Season Pass. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but don’t expect Messi Meets America to win any awards for best documentary series. Having said all that, the price of admission to Apple TV+ is worth it if you want to rewatch Messi score all of those amazing goals again. And what glorious goals they were.
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