Lionel Messi is rumoured to become the latest superstar to move to MLS, with the Times reporting that the Argentina forward will join Inter Miami. 

Messi is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, having left the Blaugrana in 2021.

But Inter Miami are said to be "confident" the 35-year-old will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

Should the move materialise, Messi would join a host of big names to ply their trade in the United States. Here are some of the most notable examples.

David Beckham

The former England captain shocked the world when he swapped Real Madrid for LA Galaxy in 2007, though his blockbuster move certainly put MLS on the map.

Beckham made 118 appearances during his five-year spell with Galaxy, scoring 20 goals, while helping the franchise to successive MLS Cup triumphs in his final two seasons.

Thierry Henry

Arsenal and France's all-time leading scorer scored 52 goals in 135 games for the New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2014, helping them win the 2013 Supporters' Shield and making four All-Star appearances.

Henry also coached Montreal Impact from 2019 to 2021, guiding them into the playoffs during his only full season in charge.

David Villa

Spain's all-time leading marksman became New York City's first signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid ahead of their debut MLS season in 2015.

A four-time All-Star, Villa would go on to score 80 goals in 126 appearances before departing for Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the end of the 2018 season.

Kaka

The former Ballon d'Or winner became Orlando City's first designated player when he agreed to join the new franchise in 2014.

Kaka played 78 times for City, scoring 25 goals, while he was an All-Star in each of his three seasons.

Andrea Pirlo

A multiple Scudetto winner with Milan and Juventus, Pirlo was unable to truly leave his mark on MLS during his stint with New York City.

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder did help the franchise reach the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, while racking up 62 appearances and netting once.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic certainly hit the ground running after switching Manchester United for LA Galaxy, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-3 win over rivals Los Angeles FC, including a 45-yard screamer.

That set the tone for a prolific two-year spell for the former Sweden international, who netted 53 times in 58 appearances before returning to Italy for a second stint at Milan.

Wayne Rooney

England's all-time leading scorer helped D.C. United reach the play-offs in his first season after joining from Everton in 2018, while he will always be remembered for his last-ditch tackle and cross-field assist to Luciano Acosta that sealed a dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City.

Rooney scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for United and, following a spell at Derby County, he returned to the franchise as head coach in July. 

Gonzalo Higuain

A league title winner with Real Madrid and Juventus, Higuain swapped Italy for the States in September 2020.

Despite missing a penalty on his debut against Philadelphia Union, the former Argentina striker went on to score 29 goals in 70 appearances before retiring at the end of the 2022 MLS season.

Lionel Messi is rumoured to become the latest superstar to move to the MLS, with the Times reporting that the Argentina forward will join Inter Miami. 

Messi is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, having left the Blaugrana in 2021.

But Inter Miami are said to be "confident" the 35-year-old will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

Should the move materialise, Messi would join a host of big names to ply their trade in the United States. Here are some of the most notable examples.

David Beckham

The former England captain shocked the world when he swapped Real Madrid for LA Galaxy in 2007, though his blockbuster move certainly put the MLS on the map.

Beckham made 118 appearances during his five-year spell with Galaxy, scoring 20 goals, while helping the franchise to successive MLS Cup triumph in his final two seasons.

Thierry Henry

Arsenal and France's all-time leading scorer scored 52 goals in 135 games for the New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2014, helping them win the 2013 Supporters' Shield and making four All-Star appearances.

Henry also coached Montreal Impact from 2019 to 2021, guiding them into the playoffs during his only full season in charge.

David Villa

Spain's all-time leading marksman became New York City's first signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid ahead of their debut MLS season in 2015.

A four-time All-Star, Villa would go on to score 80 goals in 126 appearances before departing for Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the end of the 2018 season.

Kaka

The former Ballon d'Or winner became Orlando City's first designated player when he agreed to join the new franchise in 2014.

Kaka played 78 times for City, scoring 25 goals, while he was an All-Star in each of his three seasons.

Andrea Pirlo

A multiple Scudetto winner with Milan and Juventus, Pirlo was unable to truly leave his mark on the MLS during his stint with New York City.

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder did help the franchise reach the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, while racking up 62 appearances and netting once.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic certainly hit the ground running after switching Manchester United for LA Galaxy, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-3 win over rivals Los Angeles FC, including a 45-yard screamer.

That set the tone for a prolific two-year spell for the former Sweden international, who netted 53 times in 58 appearances before returning to Italy for a second stint at Milan.

Wayne Rooney

England's all-time leading scorer helped D.C. United reach the play-offs in his first season after joining from Everton in 2018, while he will always be remembered for his last-ditch tackle and cross-field assist to Luciano Acosta that sealed a dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City.

Rooney scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for United and, following a spell at Derby County, he returned to the franchise as head coach in July. 

Gonzalo Higuain

A league title winner with Real Madrid and Juventus, Higuain swapped Italy for the States in September 2020.

Despite missing a penalty on his debut against Philadelphia Union, the former Argentina striker went on to score 29 goals in 70 appearances before retiring at the end of the 2022 MLS season.

New York Red Bulls blew a lead to be bundled out of the MLS playoffs by first-time participants Cincinnati 2-1 with Brandon Vasquez netting an 86th-minute winner on Saturday.

Lewis Morgan, who scored 14 goals in the regular season, had put the Red Bulls ahead with a rifled strike from outside the box in the 48th minute at Red Bull Arena.

But Cincinnati replied with two goals in the final 15 minutes to secure their spot in the Conference Semifinals where they will face top seed Philadelphia Union. Fourth-year franchise Cincy had finished last in the Eastern Conference during its previous three campaigns.

Cincy thought they had an equalizer in the 60th minute when the Red Bulls failed to clear a long throw and Junior Moreno's strike was deflected in, but that was by an offside Jeff Cameron.

But the visitors found an avenue back when Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes clumsily brought down Alvaro Barreal, with Luciano Acosta stepping up to send Carlos Coronel the wrong way with the 74th-minute penalty.

New York were stunned when Cincy took the lead with less than five minutes of regulation time left as Vasquez sidefooted home substitute Sergio Santos' left-flank pass.

Cincy goalkeeper Roman Celentano denied Aaron Long's 88th-minute header, while Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis headed over in stoppage time.

LA Galaxy moved into the Conference Semifinals where they will face LAFC after a 1-0 home victory over Nashville at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead in the 50th minute when they raced forward in a four-on-two situation with Riqui Puig laying off for Javier Hernandez to fire home but the goal was disallowed on review after a Ronald Araujo foul in the build-up.

Pink-haired Araujo, who hit the post with a wayward 60th-minute cross, made amends when he headed in Samuel Grandsir's cross from the byline on the right side.

Galaxy could have added another but Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis made saves from Riqui Puig and Kevin Cabral late.

Real Salt Lake and Orlando City both claimed Decision Day victories to book their spots in the 2022 MLS playoffs on a dramatic final day of the regular season.

RSL moved above Portland Timbers into the last playoffs spot in the Western Conference with their 3-1 victory, while Orlando achieved the same feat in the east after beating Columbus Crew 2-1 after a late penalty.

Pablo Mastroeni's RSL will take on two seed Austin in the first round of the MLS playoffs, navigating their way past Portland who started the day in sixth spot, but dropped to eighth, with Minnesota United also qualifying with their 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jefferson Savarino settled any nerves for RSL, who had claimed only three wins from their past 17 games, by curling in a 19th-minute opener before Rubio Rubin's deflected shot doubled their lead in the 48th minute.

Bode Hidalgo sealed RSL's playoffs spot with a classy finish in the 82nd minute, with Dairon Asprilla scoring a late consolation for the Timbers.

Minnesota, who will take on Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, got their win after Franco Fragapane's low 17th-minute drive. Jonathon Gonzalez added a second with a left-foot volley in the 77th minute to seal the Loons' spot.

Hany Mukhtar was confirmed as the MLS Golden Boot winner with 23 goals, although he did not score as Nashville locked in the five seed with a 1-0 win over Supporters Shield winners LAFC.

Teal Bunbury scored the only goal in the 53rd minute, with Nashville to face LA Galaxy in the playoffs. Galaxy beat Houston Dynamo 3-1 with Riqui Puig and Javier Hernandez among the scorers.

Facundo Torres converted an 84th-minute spot kick to send Orlando into the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Crew. The Lions will take on Eastern Conference two seed Montreal.

Columbus came into the game one point ahead of Orlando and had gone ahead through Derick Etienne in the 38th minute.

Junior Urso leveled for Orlando in the 56th minute before Milos Degenek's handball led to Torres' decisive penalty, condemning the Crew to missing the playoffs.

Cincinnati clinched their spot in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, leapfrogging up into the five seed slot, with their 5-2 win at struggling DC United.

Brenner hit a hat-trick for Cincy, who will take on New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. The Red Bulls won 2-0 over Charlotte after Elias Manoel's double to secure the four seed.

Inter Miami lost 3-1 at home to Montreal, meaning Phil Neville's side slipped to the six seed and will take on reigning MLS Cup champions New York City. City beat Atlanta United 2-1 to clinch the three seed.

In other games, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes drew 2-2, Chicago Fire drew 1-1 with New England and Austin and Colorado Rapids ended 1-1 after Diego Rubio's late equalizer for the visitors.

Eastern Conference winners Philadelphia Union thrashed Toronto 4-0 with Daniel Gazdag netting a hat-trick, while Western Conference three seed Dallas got past Sporting KC 2-1.

LA Galaxy clinched their first playoff berth since 2019 after Javier Hernandez earned them a late penalty to secure a 1-1 draw away to Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Douglas Costa converted the 68th-minute penalty won by Hernandez, after Riqui Puig had his 17th-minute spotkick saved by RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

RSL had gone ahead in the 25th minute from Sergio Cordova's header, but were left to lament Justen Glad failing to convert two late golden opportunities from headers, denting their playoff hopes and extending their winless run to five games.

Ex-Manchester United forward Hernandez earned Galaxy's reprieve after review when bundled over by Marcelo Silva inside the box, with Costa sending MacMath the wrong way.

The draw was enough for the Galaxy, who are perched fourth in the Western Conference with 47 points from 33 games, with RSL sitting eighth, just outside the playoff spots, with 44 points from 33 games.

Derrick Etienne scored two late goals against his former side to earn Columbus Crew a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls, who suffered their third defeat in four games.

Etienne equalized Franuel Amaya's 53rd-minute thunderbolt with an 89th-minute strike on the turn, before grabbing a 93rd-minute winner by lashing home a rebound.

Philadelphia Union handed the initiative to LAFC in the Supporters' Shield hunt after being thrashed 4-0 by Charlotte, for whom Daniel Rios netted four goals, achieving a franchise-first hat-trick.

The defeat means Philadelphia have failed to win in their past two games, leaving them on 64 points from 33 games, while LAFC have the same number of points with two games to play, starting with Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Donovan Pines scored an own goal and was red carded as DC United lost 1-0 to Montreal, who closed within two points of Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia with one game to play.

Sergio Santos was sent off amid a late scuffle as Cincinnati missed a chance to practically clinch a playoff spot with a 3-2 home loss to Chicago Fire. Cincinnati fought back from 3-0 down after Jhon Duran's double for Chicago.

Minnesota United's winless run extended to six games after going down 2-0 to San Jose Earthquakes, leaving them in a precarious position in the race to qualify for the Western Conference playoffs.

Vancouver Whitecaps capitalized on Minnesota and RSL's results and beat Austin 2-0 to keep alive their playoff hopes with their third straight victory. The Whitecaps are ninth in the west with 43 points with one game to play, with seventh-placed Minnesota on 45 and RSL on 44.

Josef Martinez scored a spectacular scissor-kick goal but Atlanta United went down 2-1 to New England, while playoff-bound Dallas lost 1-0 at Colorado Rapids.

Sporting Kansas City treated their home fans to an impressive 4-1 upset win against Minnesota United on Saturday, with William Agada netting a brace on his birthday.

Against the Western Conference's fourth-placed side in Minnesota, 12th-placed Sporting closed the first half in style, with three goals in the space of 15 minutes.

The first was courtesy of a friendly bounce, with a hard, low cross in the 31st minute being deflected by the Minnesota goalkeeper straight off the legs of centre-back Michael Boxall and into the back of the net for an own goal.

Johnny Russell then hit the post in the 41st minute, but was able to track down the rebound and dish one off for Erik Thommy in the box, who sidestepped a challenge before firing home Sporting's second goal.

Capping off a terrific first half, Ben Sweat whipped in a dangerous ball in the 45th minute for Agada to meet with his head, sending his side into the sheds leading 3-0.

Mender Garcia Torres was able to peg one back for Minnesota in the 57th minute, but Agada would put the game to bed with his second goal in the 81st, tapping in a smart low cross from Daniel Salloi.

Earlier in the day, in a battle between two of the Eastern Conference's top four teams, New York City won their local Hudson River Derby against New York Red Bulls 2-0 at Yankee Stadium.

The opening goal came just 50 seconds into the contest, when a corner was expertly flicked on by Santiago Rodriguez, giving defender Alexander Callens an easy close-range header.

City doubled their lead in the 23rd minute, and it was again the result of a well-worked corner, this time with Rodriguez on the receiving end of a floated ball that he was able to control and bring down before sliding it past the keeper.

It was a match bereft of chances in open play, as City finished with just 0.60 expected goals, while the Red Bulls had 0.71.

In a match with similarly few goal scoring opportunities, the top-ranked Philadelphia Union were the ones holding on for a point in their 0-0 draw away against non-playoff side Atlanta United.

Philadelphia could only muster 0.16 expected goals, while Atlanta United controlled 60 per cent of the possession and won the shot count 16-5, finishing with 1.30 expected goals.

Showing off some excellent finishing, Orlando City defied their 0.95 expected goals to hammer Toronto FC 4-0, netting two goals in each half.

The East's second-placed team, CF Montreal, were good enough to leave their away fixture against the New England Revolution with a 1-0 win, with Alistair Johnson finding the winner 72 minutes in.

Charlotte conceded goals in the third and 30th minutes to fall behind early against the Chicago Fire, but they rallied back and scored in the 68th and 76th to tie things, before stealing the points with a 96th-minute winner.

The league's top goalscorer Hany Mukhtar scored his 23rd of the season as he helped Nashville take a 1-1 draw on the road against Austin, while Cincinnati strengthened their playoff position with a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake.

In the late window, the Vancouver Whitecaps rode two quick strikes in the first half to a 2-1 home win against the Seattle Sounders, while Chicharito was one of four Los Angeles Galaxy goal scorers in their 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, and FC Dallas secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw with 10 men against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Javier Hernandez missed another spotkick before Riqui Puig took over penalty duties to net a season-saving 99th-minute equaliser in the LA Galaxy's 1-1 draw at Nashville on Saturday.

Nashville had gone ahead in the 28th minute from Hany Mukhtar's penalty but Hernandez was the centre of attention once again.

The former Manchester United forward failed to convert a 97th-minute penalty attempting a Panenka last Sunday against Sporting KC, spurning a hat-trick and winner.

Hernandez stepped up again in the 55th minute after being bundled over by Shaquell Moore but had his low shot tipped around the post by goalkeeper Joel Willis.

With their season on the line, the Galaxy earned a late reprieve after a penalty was awarded for a Walker Zimmerman handball following VAR review, with the defender receiving a second yellow card.

But Riqui Puig grabbed the ball and took the responsibility instead of Hernandez, before firing just beyond Willis' fingertips for the goal.

The result means the Galaxy are winless in three games and sit eighth in the Western Conference on 40 points.

Western Conference leaders LAFC stumbled again, suffering their fourth loss in their past five games with a 2-1 defeat to Dallas.

Jesus Ferreira boosted his claims on a spot in USA's World Cup squad with a double for Dallas, while LAFC were reduced to 10 men after Ryan Hollingshead's 13th-minute red card.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union showed why they are arguably the best team in the MLS with a 5-1 thrashing of Orlando City securing their fifth straight victory.

Lewis Morgan scored a 78th-minute penalty to help New York Red Bulls secure a 2-1 home win over New England to firm up their grip on third in the east.

New York City suffered their seventh defeat from their past nine games, going down 1-0 to Charlotte.

Brenner scored a hat-trick as Cincinnati extended their unbeaten run to nine games, winning 6-0 over San Jose Earthquakes

Thiago Almada fired in a golazo as Atlanta United defeated Toronto 4-2, while Inter Miami slumped to a third straight loss with a 3-1 defeat at Chicago Fire.

Seattle Sounders toppled Austin 3-0, Houston Dynamo and Sporting KC drew 0-0, Portland Timbers edged Minnesota United 1-0, Colorado Rapids beat Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 and Real Salt Lake and DC United ended goalless.

Dru Yearwood was red carded for booting a ball out of frustration into fans in the stands as New York Red Bulls were humbled 2-0 at home by Philadelphia Union in the MLS on Saturday.

The bizarre incident occurred in stoppage time with the Red Bulls trailing 2-0 after Yearwood conceded a foul near the sideline, with the Englishman kicking away the ball in frustration.

Yearwood's errant kick cannoned into two young fans in the front few rows at Red Bull Arena, with a boy seen crying afterwards while a young woman seemed dazed. Yearwood immediately realised his error and attempted to apologise to the fans, by climbing into the stands but that effort was not accepted by those close to the shaken-up supporters.

The Red Bulls crowd could be overheard chanting against Yearwood before referee Timothy Ford gave him his marching orders.

The incident capped a poor night for the home side, with goals from Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag clinching the win for Union, who sit top of the Eastern Conference.

Gazdag's goal, which came after Julian Carranza dispossessed Aaron Long, was his 18th of the campaign.

Dallas scored three goals in three minutes as Dallas firmed up their grip on a playoffs spot with a 3-0 road win over Minnesota United.

Michael Boxall netted a 55th-minute own goal before Alan Velasco curled in a right-foot strike less than a minute later.

Two minutes later, Velasco cannoned an effort into the crossbar with Jesus Ferreira glancing home their third after Sebastian Lletget collected the rebound and whipped in a cross.

Franco Fragapane was sent off for Minnesota, who also lost Emanuel Reynoso to a worrying ankle concern.

Cincinnati extended their unbeaten run to seven games and moved into the playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 home win over Charlotte after goals from Nick Hagglund and Luciano Acosta.

Hany Mukhtar scored a double as Nashville claimed their fourth straight win and moved up to fourth in the west with an impressive 4-0 victory over Austin.

Columbus Crew missed a golden opportunity for three points with a 0-0 draw against struggling Chicago Fire.

Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City slumped to their fifth loss from their past six games as Christian Benteke debuted for DC United who claimed an upset 2-1 win on Wednesday.

City had ended a three-game losing run with a 2-0 win at Chicago Fire 10 days before losing to Orlando City on the weekend but their poor form continued at Red Bull Arena.

Ola Kamara tapped in from point blank range to give the visitors at 24th-minute lead, but Heber side-footed in an equalizer three minutes later.

Steven Birnbaum restored United's lead with a header from a Martin Rodriguez free-kick in the 57th minute and City could not find a response with David Ochoa palming away Gedion Zelalem's 95th-minute effort.

The win is Wayne Rooney's second since taking over at United who are still last in the Eastern Conference, while it sees City slide down to fourth in the east.

Riqui Puig scored a spectacular late equalizer with a long-range curler after a give-and-go to earn LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw away to Toronto.

Douglas Costa had put the Galaxy into a 24th-minute lead before Toronto hit back with second-half goals to Jesus Jimenez and Filippo Bernardeschi before the Spaniard's 89th-minute strike.

Riqui Puig was making only his third appearance for the Galaxy following his August move from Barcelona.

The result dents star-studded Toronto's playoffs aspirations, leaving them 10th in the east, while the Galaxy are eighth in the west.

Philadelphia Union became the second team behind LAFC to book their postseason berth with a 4-1 home win over Atlanta United.

Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag and Nathan Harriel were all among the goals for Union who are eight points clear in the east.

New York Red Bulls moved up to third in the east with a 1-0 win at second-placed Montreal with Lewis Morgan hitting the winner in the 43rd minute.

LAFC suffered a shock 2-1 loss to lowly Houston Dynamo, who condemning the Western Conference leaders to their third straight defeat.

Inter Miami slumped to back-to-back losses with a 1-0 defeat at Columbus Crew, while New England's winless run extended to four games after a goalless draw with struggling Chicago Fire who snapped a three-game losing run.

Hany Mukhtar netted a hat-trick as Nashville beat Colorado Rapids 4-1, while Orlando City came from two goals down to defeat Seattle Sounders 3-2.

Real Salt Lake proved too good for Minnesota United 3-0 and Portland Timbers moved into the west's top seven with a narrow win against second-placed Austin 2-1.

Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City slumped to their fifth loss from their past six games as Christian Benteke debuted for DC United who claimed an upset 2-1 win on Wednesday.

City had ended a three-game losing run with a 2-0 win at Chicago Fire 10 days before losing to Orlando City on the weekend but their poor form continued at Red Bull Arena.

Ola Kamara tapped in from point blank range to give the visitors at 24th-minute lead, but Heber side-footed in an equalizer three minutes later.

Steven Birnbaum restored United's lead with a header from a Martin Rodriguez free-kick in the 57th minute and City could not find a response with David Ochoa palming away Gedion Zelalem's 95th-minute effort.

The win is Wayne Rooney's second since taking over at United who are still last in the Eastern Conference, while it sees City slide down to fourth in the east.

Riqui Puig scored a spectacular late equalizer with a long-range curler after a give-and-go to earn LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw away to Toronto.

Douglas Costa had put the Galaxy into a 24th-minute lead before Toronto hit back with second-half goals to Jesus Jimenez and Filippo Bernardeschi before the Spaniard's 89th-minute strike.

Riqui Puig was making only his third appearance for the Galaxy following his August move from Barcelona.

The result dents star-studded Toronto's playoffs aspirations, leaving them 10th in the east, while the Galaxy are eighth in the west.

Philadelphia Union became the second team behind LAFC to book their postseason berth with a 4-1 home win over Atlanta United.

Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag and Nathan Harriel were all among the goals for Union who are eight points clear in the east.

New York Red Bulls moved up to third in the east with a 1-0 win at second-placed Montreal with Lewis Morgan hitting the winner in the 43rd minute.

LAFC suffered a shock 2-1 loss to lowly Houston Dynamo, who condemning the Western Conference leaders to their third straight defeat.

Inter Miami slumped to back-to-back losses with a 1-0 defeat at Columbus Crew, while New England's winless run extended to four games after a goalless draw with struggling Chicago Fire who snapped a three-game losing run.

Hany Mukhtar netted a hat-trick as Nashville beat Colorado Rapids 4-1, while Orlando City came from two goals down to defeat Seattle Sounders 3-2.

Real Salt Lake proved too good for Minnesota United 3-0 and Portland Timbers moved into the west's top seven with a narrow win against second-placed Austin 2-1.

Both teams ended up with a red card in the New York Red Bulls' 3-1 home win against Inter Miami on Saturday night, where an early Gonzalo Higuain goal was not enough for the visitors to nab any points against their Eastern Conference foes.

Higuain opened the scoring in the 19th minute with an absolute rocket, firing his direct free kick to the goalkeeper-side of the wall and into the top corner.

While that gave Miami the momentum, it was ripped away 10 minutes later when Alejandro Pozuelo was shown a straight red card, putting the away side on the back foot the rest of the way.

Lewis Morgan's goal in the 43rd minute ensured the teams would head into the break all tied up, and Daniel Edelman made it 2-1 for the Red Bulls just eight minutes into the second half.

A second yellow card to Kyle Duncan turned it into a 10-on-10 match, but 19-year-old substitute Caden Clark was able to give New York some breathing room in the 74th minute, building an eight-point gap between his fourth-placed side and fifth-placed Orlando City in the East standings.

The Red Bulls are still 10 points adrift of the conference-leading Philadelphia Union, who enjoyed a 6-0 smashing of the Colorado Rapids in front of their home fans.

Daniel Gadzag netted a hat-trick, giving him 11 goals in his past nine games, and 16 for the season, which ties him for the second-most in the league.

The one-sided beatdown included a 26-to-five shot count, while Philadelphia also controlled 59 per cent of the possession.

The Houston Dynamo – the worst team in the Western Conference this season – nearly pulled off an upset away from home against third-placed Minnesota, but ultimately went down 2-1.

Houston opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time through Corey Baird, and they held their 1-0 lead until the final stages when an own goal from Fafa Picault tied things up in the 79th minute. Minnesota then stole all three points with Luis Amarilla's 84th-minute winner.

Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew are fighting it out for the fringe playoff sports in the Eastern Conference, and they could not be separated in their 2-2 draw. 

Columbus – who only had 0.43 expected goals in the game, compared to 1.36 for Cincinnati – made it 1-1 in the 74th minute with Derick Etienne's leveller, but Cincinnati took the lead straight back three minutes later through Matt Miazga. Steven Moreira would salvage a point for the Crew with nearly the last touch of the game in the 96th minute.

An Italian one-two punch lifted Toronto to a 2-0 win over Charlotte, with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernadeschi both striking in the second half.

Montreal received two early goals courtesy of Ismael Kone and Romell Quioto and were able to defend them for a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire, while Sporting Kansas City edged fellow Western Conference cellar-dwellers the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.

In the late window, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake fought out a 1-1 draw, and Hany Mukhtar grabbed another two assists to help Nashville SC handle the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0. Mukhtar now has 16 goals and 11 assists in 27 appearances.

Inter Miami claimed a crucial three points in the race for the MLS playoffs with a 2-1 victory over star-studded Eastern Conference outfit Toronto on Saturday.

The win means Phil Neville's side are unbeaten in five games and have won three of their past four to move up to fifth spot in the east.

All the goal scoring action occurred in the first half, with Inter going ahead after Toronto goalkeeper Alexander Bono's inexplicable error from Jean Mota's hopeful long-range strike in the 24th minute.

Italian recruit Lorenzo Insigne produced a moment of magic with a low right-foot volley to equalise four minutes later.

But Inter restored their lead in the 44th minute with a classy set play from a free-kick ending with Damion Lowe nodding back for Ariel Lassiter to stab home from close range.

Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley forced a save in the 72nd minute while Filippo Bernardeschi had a 94th-minute penalty shout waved away for the visitors.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union flexed their muscle with Julian Carranza netting a hat-trick in a 6-0 away win over struggling DC United.

Philadelphia were in a ruthless mood although it was scoreless until Mikael Uhre got free and squeezed in the opener in the 37th minute.

Daniel Gazdag netted a penalty won by Uhre on half-time, before Carranza scored three goals inside 27 second-half minutes capitalizing on some inexplicable passing from the United defence. Cory Burke curled in the sixth in the 79th minute.

Reigning MLS Cup champions LAFC went down 2-1 at San Jose Earthquakes but became the first side to book their playoffs spot by virtue of other results.

Colorado Rapids drew 1-1 with Houston Dynamo, who found a late equaliser from Sebastian Ferreira, while Vancouver Whitecaps could only draw 1-1 at Real Salt Lake, locking in LAFC.

Kei Kamara moved into outright third in the MLS goal scoring charts with his 135th career league goal as Montreal defeated New England 4-0.

Matt Miazga marked his return to the MLS with a goal in his second game for FC Cincinnati as they drew 1-1 at his former club New York Red Bulls.

Minnesota United boosted their playoffs' hopes with a 2-1 win over Austin thanks to Franco Fragapane's 62nd-minute winner.

Reigning MLS Cup winners New York City continued their recent slump after suffering a third straight loss, going down 3-1 at home to playoff hopefuls Charlotte FC.

Charlotte's win moves them up to 10th in the Eastern Conference, with the visitors scoring twice in the final quarter of an hour to claim victory.

The defeat means City have only managed one point from their past four games and sit third in the east with 42 points from 25 games.

Karol Swiderski had put Charlotte ahead in the fourth minute despite goalkeeper Sean Johnson's best efforts on the line, but City levelled before the half hour mark via Maxime Chanot's 30-yard strike into the top corner.

City's Anton Tinnerholm struck the crossbar from range before Charlotte found an avenue to victory with Swiderski's clever back-heel for Brandt Bronico to restore their lead in the 77th minute.

The visitors won an injury time penalty after video review which ex-Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs coolly converted to seal all three points.

Domenico Criscito lashed in a spectacular 75th-minute equaliser to earn Toronto a 2-2 draw with New England Revolution.

Filippo Bernadeschi had put Toronto ahead with a 31st-minute spotkick, but the Revs replied with goals either side of half-time from Tom McNamara and Justin Rennicks.

But Criscito intervened when Toronto took a corner short to Michael Bradley who lobbed to the edge of the box towards the former Italy international, who rifled in a left-foot volley.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union were beaten 1-0 by FC Dallas with US international Jesus Ferreira scoring the only goal in the 34th minute.

Paul Arriolo broke down the right flank and passed centrally for Ferreira, who showed good skill to create space inside the box and fire a low strike past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.

New York Red Bulls reinforced their status as playoffs contenders with a 2-1 win at struggling Atlanta United while Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Colorado Rapids 2-1.

Los Angeles FC showed why they are the MLS' best team this season as they hammered Charlotte 5-0 to move six points clear atop the Western Conference, with a game in hand.

LAFC controlled the first half, creating 12 shots to Charlotte's four, but after 45 minutes the sides went into the half-time break locked at 0-0 as the home side's attacks continued to falter in the final third.

Whatever the advice was during the break seemed to work a treat, with Jesus Murillo finding the breakthrough in the 49th minute when he headed home a stylish lofted through ball from Diego Palacios. That opened the floodgates, with Jose Cifuentes making it 2-0 10 minutes later, and Cifuentes then turned distributor in the 73rd minute to set up Carlos Vela for 3-0.

Cristian Arango got in on the fun to put home LAFC's fourth in the 76th minute, and an own goal in stoppage time from Charlotte captain Anton Walkes completed the rout.

Earlier in the day, it was Orlando City jumping up into the Eastern Conference's top-six with a 1-0 upset win away from home against New York Red Bulls.

Uruguay's Facundo Torres netted the game's only goal in the 17th minute to make it five matches without a win for the Red Bulls, who still sit fourth in the East.

In a back-and-forth contest, Cincinnati came back from an early 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1 at half-time through goals to Brandon Vasquez and Brenner, only to be denied the three points by an Andrew Gutman equaliser in the 83rd minute.

The East's bottom side DC United continued to struggle on their way to a 1-0 away loss against the New England Revolution, while the top side in the East, the Philadelphia Union, made it look easy as they treated their home fans to a 4-1 pummelling of the Chicago Fire.

Inter Miami held onto the seventh and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with their 3-2 win against New York City, thanks in large part to Alejandro Pozuelo's brace, with one assist coming from Gonzalo Higuain.

Austin FC came back from 3-1 down at half-time to steal a 4-3 win against Sporting Kansas City, with Sebastian Driussi netting the winner in the 94th minute, while Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne injected some Italian flavour with a goal each to help Toronto FC defeat the Portland Timbers 3-1.

The struggling Colorado Rapids will be the more pleased of the two sides after a 1-1 draw against the Colombus Crew, and a first-half double from FC Dallas' Jesus Ferreira was the catalyst in a 4-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes.

CF Montreal's Romell Quioto scored a penalty and missed a penalty in a 3-2 win against the Houston Dynamo to strengthen their second-placed position in the East, and a four-goal first half from Los Angeles Galaxy – including a goal and an assist for Chicharito – was more than enough to prevail 5-2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Italy international Lorenzo Insigne netted his first goal in the MLS as Toronto won a seven-goal thriller 4-3 over Nashville on Saturday, while Gareth Bale was on the scoresheet again for LAFC.

The 31-year-old winger fired in Toronto's fourth goal to make it 4-2 in the 77th minute with a near-post strike from just outside the box.

Insigne, making his third MLS appearance for Toronto, showed his class to create a pocket of space for himself before opening up his body to fire past Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis.

The goal headlined an entertaining contest which helped Toronto claim their seventh win of the season as they seek to mount a late-season charge.

Jonathan Osorio rifled Toronto in a 19th-minute lead but Hany Mukhtar's penalty squared it up in the 41st minute. Osorio restored Toronto's lead by tapping in Richie Laryea's low ball across goal, yet Nashville were level by half-time when Teal Bunbury glanced in off the post from a corner.

Filippo Bernardeschi put Toronto up again with an emphatic 54th-minute penalty before Insigne's moment with just under quarter of an hour to go. Walker Zimmerman headed in a late goal from Mukhtar's corner but Nashville could not find an equaliser as Toronto claimed their first road win in 378 days.

Bale, making his fourth appearance for his new club, netted his second MLS goal in LAFC's 4-1 victory against Real Salt Lake.

The Walsh international came on in the 64th minute with LAFC 3-1 up after Cristian Arango's double and added the fourth with a classy solo goal. Bale ran down the right flank, beating away two defenders, before tucking into the box and finding his favoured left foot for a trademark strike.

Cincinnati made a statement with a strong 3-1 home win against Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union.

All three of Cincinnati's goals came in the second half, after Brenner had a first-goal strike disallowed by the VAR. Brandon Vazquez, Brenner and Alvaro Barreal netted for Cincinnati, who move up to sixth, while Paxton Aaronson scored a late consolation for Union.

Under-performing New England snapped their six-game winless run to revive their playoffs hopes with a 3-0 victory at Orlando City.

Matt Polster, Wilfrid Kaptoum and Henry Kessler got the goals, with Carles Gil grabbing his 12th assist of the season for the latter's strike.

New York City were unable to capitalise on Philadelphia's loss, going down 3-2 at Columbus Crew, for whom Lucas Zelarayan scored a brace.

Gonzalo Higuain got on the scoresheet as Inter Miami rallied from behind to twice to manage a 2-2 draw at Montreal.

Bottom club DC United held New York Red Bulls to a 0-0 draw, while Chicago Fire made it four wins in five games with a 3-2 victory at Charlotte.

In the west, Javier Hernandez netted a late double but it was not enough for LA Galaxy who went down 4-2 at Sporting KC.

Gyasi Zardes scored a hat-trick as Colorado Rapids edged Minnesota United 4-3, Austin and San Jose Earthquakes drew 3-3 and Portland Timbers and Dallas both scored late in a 1-1 draw.

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