The top 10 MLS chance creators of 2024: Does Lionel Messi make the cut?

Lionel Messi is top of the MLS assists chart with nine from just nine appearances this season, but he surprisingly doesn’t feature in the top 10 chance creators of 2024.

The 36-year-old’s nine assists have come from a total of 19 key passes (the final pass before a team-mate shoots at goal) in MLS so far this campaign, which places him 27th for that particular metric – behind the likes of Riqui Puig, Emil Forsberg and Ryan Gauld.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see Messi creep up the chances created chart as the season progresses, given he was often somewhere around the top during his peak years in Europe.

But who does feature in the top 10 at present? We’ve taken a closer look at the 10 players who have played the most key passes this season.

10. Mateusz Klich – 28

There are plenty of familiar faces turning out in MLS these days, but former Leeds United fan favourite Mateusz Klich is one of only two former Premier League players who features in the MLS top 10 for chances created this season.

The D.C. United midfielder has established a nice understanding with fellow Premier League old boy Christian Benteke this season.

He’s notched three assists, while the Belgian striker is joint top of the MLS scorers’ chart – Benteke’s hat-trick against Atalanta United takes him to 11 goals for the season, level with Luis Suarez, one ahead of Messi.

READ: The 16 former Premier League stars currently playing in MLS: Tottenham icon, Liverpool cult hero…

9. Brooks Lennon – 28

The only homegrown American in the top 10, Lennon spent two years developing his skills in Liverpool’s youth set-up before returning to the United States.

A right-back by trade, Lennon is enjoying a solid campaign with Atlanta United, regularly creating chances, and kicking off the 2024 campaign like a house on fire by notching assists in victories over New England Revolution, Orlando City and Chicago Fire.

8. Cristian Arango – 29

The Colombian forward is in the form of his life for Real Salt Lake. He notched a hat-trick against St. Louis City at the tail-end of match, kicking off a superb spell of nine goals in his last seven MLS outings.

He’s also a creative presence alongside being a goal threat himself. Arango has notched three assists and played 29 key passes this season.

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7. Thiago Almada – 29

“I want to go to Europe now! Yes, now in this upcoming transfer window, I want to go now,” Atlanta United’s No. 10 said in an interview with ESPN Latin America back in December.

“I would like any top league. If I have to choose it’s Premier League or La Liga, but I would like any top league.”

No dream move materialised for the Argentinian, regarded as the most valuable player in Major League Soccer right now, but he hasn’t sulked and kicked his heels.

The 23-year-old ranks highly for both dribbles and key passes and is frequently the best player on the pitch when you watch Atlanta United.

That big move will surely happen sooner or later. Enjoy him while he’s here, MLS fans.

6. Federico Bernardeschi – 30

MLS’ Dribble King is also the top chance creator.

The former Juventus midfielder moved to the United States at a younger age than most European stars and he’s making the most of his prime years.

A joy to watch at Toronto FC.

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi dribbles the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer game against the New York Red Bulls, Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

READ: The top 10 dribblers in MLS in 2024: Where does Lionel Messi rank?

5. Amine Bassi – 30

You may or may not remember Bassi spending a miserable half-season loan stint at relegation-bound Barnsley a couple of years back.

The Moroccan midfielder has done well to bounce back from that inauspicious career low in South Yorkshire, having moved from Metz to Houston Dynamo for a fresh start last January.

Bassi enjoyed a solid debut season with the Dynamo, notching eight goals in 19 appearances, and has kicked on and demonstrated his creativity this year.

He averages a key pass every 22 minutes this season, a rate which is only marginally bettered by the man in the top spot on this list.

4. Cristian Espinoza – 31

Only Lionel Messi (nine) has notched more assists than San Jose’s Argentinian winger (seven) in 2024.

Espinoza has notched 4.4xAG (Expected Assisted Goals) this season. Only LAFC’s Denis Bouanga – who surprisingly doesn’t feature anywhere in this top 10 – has a higher rate (5.4xAG) so far this season.

3. Kai Wagner – 31

The Philadelphia Union left-back only has a couple of assists this season, but he might have considerably more were his team-mates that bit more clinical with their shooting from his key passes.

2. Carles Gil – 34

The second one-time Premier League player to feature in this list, the experienced Spanish midfielder has found a settled home as a consistent difference-maker with New England Revolution after his so-so stints with Aston Villa and Deportivo La Coruna.

Gil is into his fifth season with the Revolution and is showing no signs of slowing down. He might’ve hoped for more than one assist from his 34 key passes this season, though.

1. Luciano Acosta – 43

Number one by a country mile.

The reigning MLS MVP, who played a starring role in FC Cincinnati’s Supporters’ Shield triumph last season, is genuinely up there with his Argentinian compatriot Messi as one of the best players in MLS right now.

Acosta offers end product – six goals, six assists – and is consistent in his creativity. Argentina could do worse than giving him a Copa America call-up this summer, while there’s talk of him changing his allegiance to play for the USMNT for the 2026 World Cup.