There is no doubting who the biggest star is in MLS anymore. Lionel Messi will wear that crown for as long as he calls Inter Miami his home, drawing in massive crowds wherever he goes. He may not have been able to lift his new team into playoff contention in 2023, but as the postseason rumbles on without him, the league remains abuzz from it's first brush with 'Messi-mania'.
As well as the biggest name, Messi is almost certainly the best player in MLS right now. But despite his quite ridiculous nomination given how little he played in the league due to his injury problems, he will not be taking home the MLS MVP award for 2023. That prize is Acosta's.
Lucho Acosta has spent the past season spearheading FC Cincinnati's best-ever regular season, as they were crowned Supporters' Shield winners while also earning a place in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, where they were beaten by Messi and Miami.
Acosta tallied 17 goals and 14 assists across all regular season competitions, and as a result, was handed the MVP honors. Actively in the process of acquiring his United States citizenship, the 29-year-old is also looking to earn eligibility to represent the U.S. men's national team, and potentially play a role in the 2026 World Cup on American soil.
What the diminutive Acosta lacks in size, he makes up for in skill, intelligence and awareness across the entire pitch. If Gregg Berhalter has the opportunity to add Acosta to his ranks, it automatically raises the standards of the USMNT.
From a failed move to Paris Saint-Germain to turmoil with D.C. United, and now MVP with FC Cincy, Acosta has adapted and continued to excel in MLS. Now, he's finally being recognized for his brilliance.