MLS 2024

SEATTLE - Perhaps the most anticipated MLS season in the history of the league, the 2024 campaign gets kicks off this week with Lionel Messi's Inter Miami headlining the storylines. Having entered the MLS in 2020, Inter Miami is looking to become the third expansion team in the last 10 years to win an MLS Cup within their first five seasons in the league (Atlanta United and LAFC). But Messi is not the only Latino trying to make history this year so we bring you five Latino storylines that every MLS fan should follow throughout the 2024 season.

Lionel Messi's Inter Miami 2.0

Year two of the Lionel Messi era at Inter Miami gets underway on Wednesday, Feb. 21 with the Herons hosting Real Salt Lake. New and familiar faces have arrived to South Florida to make Inter Miami a contender for this year's MLS Cup title. According to DraftKings and most sportsbooks, Inter Miami enters the 2024 season as the clear favorites to lift the cup at +300.

Even though 2023 was a successful year for Inter Miami by winning their first-ever trophy in the Leagues Cup and reaching the U.S. Open Cup final, their performance in league play was awful. Inter Miami finished second to last in the Eastern Conference last season and only Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids had a worse campaign in all of MLS.

Lionel Messi's arrival gave the Herons a momentary boost, but Inter Miami still struggled at the end of the season and managed to win only three of their 12 MLS games with the Argentine on the pitch (3-5-4 W-L-D). Ten of Messi's 11 goals for the club came during the team's run to the Leagues Cup final.

Lionel Messi's Inter Miami debut came against Liga MX team Cruz Azul; he scored the winning goal in stoppage time with this wonderful free-kick

Josef Martínez' new chapter in Montréal

With Inter Miami declining Josef Martínez' contract option, the Venezuelan had to find a new team to continue his MLS career. Looking for more minutes and for another project to lead to MLS glory, he stumbled upon CF Montréal.

One of the best strikers to grace MLS in the last 10 years, Martínez will be looking to revamp his career as one of the most clinical scorers in league history. Since suffering an unfortunate ACL injury in 2020, Martínez has struggled to find the back of the net with the frequency pre-injury. Only during 2021 (12) did he surpass the double-digit mark.

"I want to reach Wondo," Martínez told the media on Feb. 7 as he was presented as new CF Montréal player. "That's my thing, that's my goal, that's my dream and help the team to win trophies."

The Venezuelan is not that far off Chris Wondolowski's 171 MLS regular season goals. With 30 years of age and a 105 MLS goals to his name, Martínez would need 66 more goals to set a new MLS record.

Can Columbus Crew win back-to-back MLS Cups?

Most of their hopes will be placed in Colombian striker 'Cucho' Hernández, who helped the Crew win its third-ever MLS Cup last season, winning MLS Cup MVP honors along the way. 'Cucho' finished 2023 with 21 goals in MLS, including five in the playoffs and will certainly try to make a push for this year's Golden Boot award. According to DraftKings, Hernández has the fifth best odds to finish as the top scorer in MLS (+1200), behind Inter Miami duo Messi and Luis Suárez, 2023 Golden Boot winner Dennis Bouanga and Atlanta United's Giorgos Giakoumakis.

'Cucho' Hernández was included in last season's MLS Best XI

Just like LAFC proved it last year by falling short in the MLS Cup final, winning back-to-back titles is a hard task. In the history of MLS, only three teams have achieved consecutive titles and the last one to do so was LA Galaxy, more than a decade ago.

If there's something Columbus has struggled with in recent years is consistency. Since 2020, they have won two MLS Cups but failed to qualify to the playoffs in two seasons, finishing 17th overall in 2021 after their title-winning 2020 campaign. The last time the Crew had consecutive playoff appearances was between 2017-18.

Portland Timbers' Diego Chará close to an MLS record

Entering his 14th season with the Portland Timbers, the Colombian Diego Chará could have a date with history in 2024 if he plays enough games in the regular season.

For years, Nick Rimando's record of 389 regular season MLS games for a single club has been the benchmark but Chará could climb to first place if he plays 23 games for the Timbers this year. The Colombian sits at 367 games for Portland since signing in 2011, only Chris Wondolowski (376) separates him from Rimando's record.

He has a realistic chance of getting there this season. In his 13 seasons in MLS, the Colombian has played at least 27 games in 12 of the 13 seasons, with 2020 being a shortened campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic (played in 20 of the 23 games that year).

Diego Chará is also 33 regular season games away from becoming the 10th player in MLS history to reach 400 regular season MLS games, and the only Latino with more than 350 MLS games under his belt. Between active players, only Darlington Nagbe (386) has played in more games than Chará.

Most regular season games played for the same club - MLS history


Nick Rimando

Chris Wondolowski

Diego Chará

Kyle Beckerman


Real Salt Lake

San José Earthquakes

Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake






Transition season for LAFC

As things stand, LAFC could potentially be losing six of the players that started the team's MLS Cup final a few months ago. Kellyn Acosta, Diego Palacios, Maxime Crépau and club legend Carlos Vela are out of contract, while Giorgio Chiellini retired from soccer last December.

With LAFC's need to find replacements, it is looking like a transition season is in the horizon for the Black & Gold. Losing key players will hurt them of course, but the idea of losing all-time top scorer and club captain Carlos Vela might be the hardest to overcome if both parties fail to reach an agreement to a new deal.

Since joining the club in 2018, Vela was been one of the most important players in MLS. The Mexican striker has finished in the top 5 in jersey sales each year since arriving to MLS, topping the list in 2020.

Vela, a former MLS MVP and MLS Golden Boot winner, had -arguably- the single-best season in league history, finishing with a record 34 goals along with 15 assists in 2019.

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