Lionel Messi

Tim Howard: How MLS goalkeepers can gameplan to stop Lionel Messi

Messi is beginning his first full season in Major League Soccer.

NBC Universal, Inc.

He's every goalie's worst nightmare. He's every defender's worst nightmare. He's every manager's worst nightmare.

He's 5-foot-7 Lionel Messi.

Messi, to no one's surprise, has taken Major League Soccer by storm since joining Inter Miami mid-season last year.

He led Miami to a storybook League's Cup run, helping the franchise win its first trophy in the first ever edition of the new tournament.

With the 2024 season already underway, Messi hasn't missed a beat in the first two games, assisting vs. Real Salt Lake and scoring an equalizer at the death to earn a draw at LA Galaxy.

That begs the question: How do MLS goalkeepers stop Messi? Former USMNT and Premier League veteran goalie Tim Howard gave his thoughts.

"At the rate that Messi's playing since he's since he's come over here? I think the answer is I don't know if you do stop him," Howard said in an exclusive interview with NBCUniversal Local. "He's just been, he's been fantastic."

Howard also provided insight on his own experiences playing against the Argentine.

"You know, I remember playing against him and he's...almost impossible, impossible to prepare for because the angles and the pace and the way he hits balls," Howard said. "You're hoping that it's, you know, one of those days where you have a really good day and your reactions are sharp and he has a really off day because otherwise there is no advice to give a goalkeeper because it's just he's that good."

And as for someone who also got to play with and against Cristiano Ronaldo, Howard has his answer on who's the GOAT of soccer.

"[Messi's] number one, I think he's number one all time," Howard said. "You know, I played with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and then played against him for a number of years and he's always been number one in my book. I guess it's subjective, of course, but with Messi winning the World Cup and kind of cementing that, you know, he's a God-like figure and I've played against him twice and obviously been in his presence in the stadium.

"And you see the way people react to him. It's just, it's unreal. And so, where does he rank? Probably the number one best player of all time."

The Major League Soccer season is kicking off in February. Here are important dates for the 2024 campaign.
Contact Us