Can MLS really become one of the top leagues in the world?

Remember when everyone was talking about Major League Soccer?

It seems like six years ago, or just yesterday, but an actual MLS team was the main storyline across the American-sports landscape for most of the summer. LeBron, Serena Williams, Selena Gomez, and even Owen Wilson all came out to games to watch the greatest soccer player of all time play for what was, at the time, the worst team in America's fifth-most-popular sports league.

And then it just ... stopped. Lionel Messi got injured, college and professional football started, European soccer began, Inter Miami missed the playoffs by nine points, and the average American sports fan stopped caring about the league that, briefly, everyone seemed to care about.

So, with Messi's first MLS season in the books and with the Columbus Crew winning MLS Cup, it feels like the right time to take stock. Twenty-eight years in, just how good is MLS?