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What you need to know

Inter Miami close to MLS-record deal with Messi

Inter Miami CF are nearing a deal with Lionel Messi that would make the Argentine superstar the highest-paid player in MLS history, according to a report Sunday in The Times of London. Messi, who’s under contract at Paris Saint-Germain through the 2022-23 European season, is currently at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the Albiceleste and is reportedly being lured by a league-record sum. The Herons are also reportedly looking into reuniting him with former FC Barcelona teammates Luis Suárez and Cesc Fàbregas.

Canada's World Cup dream dashed in loss to Croatia

Canada celebrated early, but their dreams of reaching the World Cup knockout stage were dashed following a 4-1 loss to Croatia.

Beasley, Donovan named to National Soccer Hall of Fame

Major League Soccer and US men’s national team legends DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan are part of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023, it was announced Saturday.

Celtic in advanced talks to sign CF Montréal's Johnston

Scottish Premiership powerhouse Celtic are in advanced talks with CF Montréal to sign Canadian international defender Alistair Johnston, a source confirms to No deal is done yet, but talks are at an advanced stage. Transfermarkt's Manuel Veth first reported the discussions.

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Small-sided: We probably need to talk about CF Montréal (and maybe about messi too)

A couple of things caught my attention this weekend. One of them probably didn’t catch yours, and the other almost definitely did. Let’s talk it out.

CF Montréal’s backward sprint

We know for sure Djordje Mihailovic is gone. We know for sure Victor Wanyama is out of contract. And then there are a whole bunch of other potential moves floating in the periphery that could deconstruct a 65-point team down to the studs in one offseason.

Young midfielder Ismael Kone has a number of teams reportedly tracking him as he earns minutes for Canada at the World Cup. And fullback Alistair Johnston, who they acquired last December in a trade for $1 million in allocation money, seems to be on his way to Celtic.

Those four losses alone would pose a major problem for any team. These are core players, three of whom were greatly outperforming their cost. That’s extremely difficult to replace in MLS. Wanyama put in the kind of top-level performance you’d expect and want from a DP. And DP output from DP players is far from a given, no matter how much they cost.

All of those losses would be huge alone. But then there are the rumors. You might have heard them floating around. So far all we know is the Columbus Crew reportedly have made CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy a target to be their new head coach, but the internet seems to be whispering amongst itself the deal is already done. You should wait for official confirmation on that before assuming too much, however it’s not too early to at least consider an offseason where CF Montréal must replace four critical players and one of the league’s most outstanding coaches.

In my opinion (and with a ton of respect for what Jim Curtin has done in Philly), Nancy should have been your 2022 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year. That’s not exactly a bold opinion after Nancy came a tenth of a percentage point from winning it this year, but it seemed clear to me and other media types Nancy was the guy. He did something truly remarkable over the last two seasons, beginning with a 2021 season that opened with his surprise appointment to lead the team after Thierry Henry left the club weeks before the season began and a COVID-influenced schedule that saw Montréal begin the year in Florida.

From there, he somehow turned a team with one DP into a team that came just two points from winning the Supporters’ Shield. They were only outpaced by two of the best MLS teams ever.

Now you have to wonder, how close is Montréal to “Doing a Colorado”? The Rapids lost several key players last offseason and never came close to matching the highs for their phenomenal 2021 season. Montréal might lose several key players and the head coach that elevated the team to heights beyond its station.

It will (obviously) depend on how committed the team is to bringing in replacements. Colorado seemed totally disinterested in building on the success of 2021 and lost far more than they gained in the offseason. If Montréal does the same, they’ll be in serious trouble. And even if they do work to bring reinforcements, it’s going to take outstanding scouting and heavy investment to make up for what they’ve lost.

Montréal are facing an uphill climb. It’s doable. You just can’t help but wonder if, for the second straight year, we might see one of the previous season’s best stories fail to follow up.

Miami Messi

Alright, fine. We’ll talk about it. Real quick. Because it seems to be that time of year where this rumor pops up, and well, we’ve gotta talk about it.

I’ll just say as far as versions of this rumor go…well, does it kind of seem to anyone else like this has a little more legs? This isn’t @HeronMessi420 on Twitter saying he overheard a guy on his phone at the gas station claiming Lionel Messi to Miami. There’s reporting here. From multiple, credible outlets.

Remember, the initial stage of this particular version of the rumor began back on Halloween, when The Athletic’s David Ornstein reported Inter Miami were “increasingly confident” in signing Messi. A month later we have credible reporting from The Times building on that.

As someone whose job is to consume and condense MLS news daily, trust me when I say I’m as weary as anyone of this coming to fruition. But while I’m not convinced there’s a fire yet, I’m not skeptical enough to deny there’s legitimate smoke.

Other Things

USA remain undefeated against England at World Cups: The US men’s national team remain undefeated (1W-0L-2D record) against England at FIFA World Cups, securing a 0-0 draw Friday. In past editions of this tournament, the Yanks beat the Three Lions (1-0 at Brazil 1950) and drew them (1-1 at South Africa 2010). This year, England are ranked No. 5 in the world. Neither side managed a breakthrough goal in Friday's mammoth Group B clash.

USMNT World Cup hopes clarified after Iran leave Bale “gutted”: Team USA’s fate at the 2022 FIFA World Cup always, seemingly, would boil down to their final Group B test (Nov. 29) against Iran. That outlook received a giant exclamation point in Friday’s early morning hours stateside, as Iran scored two second-half stoppage-time goals to beat Wales 2-0 and – at least briefly – take Group B's second place over the USMNT.

Costa Rica upset Japan: After a nightmare 7-0 loss to Spain to start their 2022 FIFA World Cup participation, Costa Rica bounced back in Group E in a major way, defeating Japan 1-0 on Sunday. Keysher Fuller scored the winner in the 81st minute for Costa Rica, who became the first team from the Concacaf region to win a match in Qatar.

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Good luck out there. Winners come up big in any situation.