Captain Vote

Each nominee’s case for the 2024 MLS All-Star Captain Fan Vote

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Being named a 2024 MLS All-Star is already an impressive accomplishment. You’re in a prestigious group of the best players across the league. But there’s another level beyond that. There’s the All-Stars’ All-Star: the captain.

With this year's roster announced, it's time for the 2024 MLS All-Star Captain Fan Vote presented by Captain Morgan. The four nominees are:

  • Luciano Acosta - FC Cincinnati
  • Cristian Arango - Real Salt Lake
  • Cucho Hernández - Columbus Crew
  • Lionel Messi - Inter Miami CF

Here's why each one deserves your vote to lead the charge against the best from Liga MX on July 24 at Columbus Crew's Field.

Campaign slogan: Let Cucho and Wilfried Nancy work their magic again.

They won an MLS Cup together. They went on a historic Concacaf Champions Cup run together. And now they could be partners in crime in front of the home crowd in Columbus at this year’s MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.

Cucho wearing the armband with Nancy coaching from the sidelines is a perfect situation for one of MLS' model clubs to flaunt their strengths to this region and beyond.

With 10 goals in MLS play this year and top-tier chance-creation numbers, Cucho has been an absolute force in the Crew’s attacking line. The best players in the world are the ones who put defenders into the most compromising positions with the greatest frequency – that’s exactly what the Colombian does.

If you sit in a low block, he can drop deep and pick the right pass to split you open. If you press high, he’ll run past you and exploit the open space in your box. He can make the primary run inside the 18 or trail as the accent runner, arriving at the perfect moment to receive the ball and punish a recovering defense.

The 25-year-old is one of the best players in the Western Hemisphere. He’s going to be playing in front of his hometown crowd. This is an easy choice.

Campaign slogan: “I’ll do stuff like this…”

Luciano Acosta was the best player on the best team in MLS last year as he led FC Cincinnati to the Supporters’ Shield and a deep Audi MLS Cup Playoffs run. This year, he’s the best player on a Supporters’ Shield contender, leads the league in goals plus primary assists, and has created more valuable chances than anybody else in MLS. The guy just doesn’t stop changing games.

According to FBref, Acosta has racked up the most expected assists in the league. Even when you look at things on a per-90-minute basis, Acosta leads MLS players with at least 750 minutes in xA and creates nearly half of an expected goal for his teammates every single game.

Fresh off winning last year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP award and being named captain at the 2023 MLS All-Star Game, Acosta’s numbers (both actual and underlying) are up almost across the board. So what if Cincinnati lost half of their outfield starters over the offseason? The 30-year-old’s skillful attacking play from the No. 10 spot keeps them in every game.

We’re lucky to have Acosta in this league and we’d be lucky to see him wear the armband in a different Ohio city later this summer.

Campaign slogan: You want goals, don’t you?

So many different parties have received credit for Real Salt Lake’s rapid improvement from 2023 to 2024. The front office has gotten well-deserved love, as has manager Pablo Mastroeni, the new coaching staff, young stars and role players. But without Chicho Arango? There’s no way RSL are speeding towards hosting a playoff series. No. Way.

Arango has been the goalscorer in MLS this year. He’s the current Golden Boot leader, striking fear into the opposition from the top of Mastroeni’s 3-2-5 attacking shape.

With fantastic movement inside the box and great timing to meet the ball, Arango could make his money solely by being a poacher. But he’s also a threat with the ball at his feet. Earlier this year, Mastroeni told me: “He's one of the best final passers we have on this team … he’s an artist. He’s a creator.”

Among strikers in MLS this year, Arango is in the 99th percentile in xA per 90 minutes, according to FBref. He’s an elite creator in his position, to the point where he’s even been used as an attacking midfielder while a teammate occupies the opposing center backs. You won’t find a more selfless or more effective No. 9 in this league.

Campaign slogan: Vote for the GOAT.

If the captain's armband indeed goes to the All-Star’s All-Star, it should go to Lionel Messi.

Whenever you see a social media video where teams ask their players about their dream postgame jersey swap, the answer is always "Messi." He’s your favorite band’s favorite band, if that band was the most famous band in the world.

He leads MLS players with at least 100 minutes in goal contributions and tallied 12 goals and nine primary assists before representing Argentina at Copa América.

The guy isn’t human. He’s the GOAT.

Messi is, without a doubt, the best player whenever he steps on the field in this league. He’s a singular attacking force, fully capable of pulling your defense apart with his movement, left-footed distribution and goal threat.

Everything there is to be said about Messi’s on-field play has already been said. The captaincy belongs to him, not least because every player listed before him in this piece would say so.