EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published Aug. 26 when reports of Lionel Messi leaving FC Barcelona surfaced. Since, Messi's comments of wanting to play in the United States one day have reignited conversations about if he could come to MLS.
You have two lines or less to get the greatest player in the history of the game to your team. That’s it. Two. Why? Because there are 27 teams and this would have been too long otherwise. We’re doing one of those elevator pitch things your friend in business school complained about even though they didn’t actually go to real school like the rest of us. [ducks]
Look, don’t take this too seriously. These are theoretical, and completely unserious, last-ditch efforts for these teams trying to get Lionel Messi while at the same time we make the same efforts to get content out of the world’s biggest soccer story. Anyway, you may already know this but there are reports that have already indicated where he’ll end up. It’s FC Tulsa.
“This feels like a done deal. Bring it in man.”
*It’s not so much a pitch as it is Messi and Greg Vanney in a corner eagerly swapping scarf-wearing tips and giggling*
Sporting Kansas City
*Peter Vermes and Lionel Messi just staring at each other in a harshly lit room for 30 minutes until they nod at each other and Messi signs a contract saying he’ll play for free*
“Man, you don’t even have to try until like ... July.”
San Jose Earthquakes
[Redacted Matias Almeyda speech that was far too ethereal and evocative to be written down. For a brief moment, everyone who heard it had the ability to cure disease and to see the egret spirit that represents all love in the universe plus also some deleted scenes from The Fugitive. They’re...I mean you can see why they were cut, ya know?]
Real Salt Lake
“Hey, so we know you’re trying to get back at Barcelona and we know that we have the same first name as their big rival, so you know what would turn into a ‘real salt lake’?”
And then it’s just like 20 minutes of mugging for a nonexistent camera.
*Merritt Paulson singing “You Are My Sunshine” to a swaddled Messi while rocking him back and forth*
Orlando City SC
“Please enjoy this highlight film from our league’s unquestionably most prestigious competition: The MLS is Back Tournament.”
New York Red Bulls
“So you would have to press a lot but we really think tha—no hey wait where are you going?”
New York City FC
“You know what, see you in three years.”
New England Revolution
“Why go to the English Premier League when you could go to the New English Premier League?”
[A never-ending guitar solo as Messi indicates he doesn’t understand]
I don’t even really have a bit here, I’m genuinely not unconvinced that letting Thierry Henry be Thierry Henry wouldn’t seal the deal.
“How do you feel about being...the underdog?”
*Two very sad confetti cannons go off*
*”Brave" by Sara Bareilles plays*
“Yeah, honestly, not sure how you fit in here but maybe you can replace Carlos Vela for the next month."
It’s that GIF of Charlie Day doing the “Pepe Silvia” bit from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia but it’s LAG trying to explain how they can fit Messi in under MLS roster rules.
“Don’t you want to keep playing with Luis?”
[Empty promises to meet Beyonce.]
*They pass Messi a large cowboy boot spray painted gold and just keep asking if he gets it yet.*
“Ok, which one of these bald guys is …”
*Someone writes “Ben Olsen” on a whiteboard and slowly erases letters until it says “Bele” and then erases the lower curve on the B and gestures back and forth excitedly from Messi to the board*
“Please enjoy these videos of American Andres Iniesta, Darlington Nagbe.”
Chicago Fire FC
[Raphael Wicky giving a lengthy presentation on Apple products that doesn’t mention soccer a single time. Not. Once.]
“Great new stadium, great new fans and a free subscription to the Longhorn Network.”
Yeah honestly don’t really see it. Not a big enough club.