In Praise of Blanco

As someone who has long been cool to the idea of the Chicago Fire, or any Major League Soccer (MLS) club, signing Cuauhtemoc Blanco, it seems fair to look at the question from the other side...or at least to let other do it.

The coverage, even outside Chicago, suggests this counts as the second-biggest off-season signing for the league. The New York Sun's Paul Gardner certainly touches this line, if he doesn't go beyond it, in his lead. But he goes one further here:

"Beckham is the ultimate expression of the glamour, riches, and global appeal of modern show-sport. Blanco brings something much more limited but of great value: He represents Mexican soccer. To many Mexicans — and not just to supporters of his Mexican team Club America — he represents even more: He represents Mexico.

That's a bold statement, of course, and there's no harm in hoping it proves accurate. Gardner also shows little patience for my pet theory - e.g. that the physicality combined with the often-inconsistent refereeing in MLS, will knock Blanco off his game. And that's a big question given that Blanco will be States-side for either two and three years at $2 million per annum (the length of the contract seems unknown, though Blanco explain the discrepancy well enough in a Q & A with a Chicago paper; that it is, effectively, a two-and-a-half year contract explains the earlier discrepancy).

Hmm...this isn't unfolding quite as I'd intended. Suffice to say that if you read the articles behind all those links, you'll see signs of a Blanco that looks to be here to play and win. He could work out, after all, I suppose. Blanco getting butts in seats would be a good thing - especially Mexican butts, because that's revenue and attention that has heretofore gone untapped.

Two more things before leaving this alone: Soccer America threw something together that puts Blanco in context with regard to the Fire team he'll join. Good stuff. But the best item of the day comes with a quote that appeared in ChicagoLand Soccer News' write-up on the signing:

"“Soccer is getting better in this America,” Blanco said. “The U.S. National Team is good.”

Who said that, now?



pupkick said...

Great signing for the Fire.

Tom said...

Great round-up. I think the Blanco signing is critical for MLS. Sure, big Mexican stars have played here before, but it's the timing that's key with Beckham arriving as well.