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Cuauhtemoc Blanco effect at Chicago

For all the hype around the arrival of David Beckham stateside, no mid-season signing has had the affect on its team than that of Cuauhtemoc Blanco for Chicago. Blanco’s signing was far from a sure thing: After all Mexican Internationals have come to MLS and flopped previously, the most notable being Luis Hernandez who spent a miserable year and a half with the LA Galaxy, and many myself included took Ricardo LaVolpe’s decision to dump Blanco from the Mexican World Cup Team as a sign that his volatile personality had reached a boiling point.

At 34, Blanco seems to have reached the pinnacle of his career. Despite now being nothing more than a reserve for the National Team, he was the most valuable player in this spring’s Mexican Clausura where he led Club America to the finals where they lost to Pachuca. Like a fine wine he seems to have gotten better with age and also dumped his immature and temperamental side, channeling his emotion into leadership for his club.

His arrival in Chicago was not met by the fanfare Beckham’s was in LA, but with three goals and four assists in four league games and one friendly he has played, the Fire has been transformed. The team which looked out of sorts for months, now has a genuine playmaker. This has turned the Fire, a team that looked more desperately lost than even the LA Galaxy a month ago into a likely playoff team. Blanco has thus far been able to dictate play with his new team unlike Beckham, and as a playmaking #10 he has made his quality has rubbed off on his teammates.

Blanco has also had a hidden affect on attendance. Unlike Hernandez whose affect on crowds was limited to his debut with the Galaxy (where they did draw 40,000 plus) Blanco has increased Chicago’s attendance by an average of 5,000 fans for each home date since he arrived. In addition, larger than usual crowds in smaller markets like Salt Lake City and Kansas City have come out to see him and have loudly cheered every touch he has made during the run of play. When Blanco does play against FC Dallas, Colorado and Houston on the road expect large crowds cheering his every touch once again.

No disrespect intended towards the great David Beckham who has given MLS immense international visibility and credibility or Juan Pablo Angel, but this season’s top “designated player” addition to this point has been Blanco. Of course when David Beckham is healthy and the Galaxy actually make an effort to surround him with players that compliment his abilities that may change, but for now Blanco is the key impact “Beckham Rule” newcomer in the league.

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  1. Rhet

    August 27, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Saying Donovan is one of the two best players to ever play in MLS in generous, but I’ll take the rest of your rant as a good sign that Lalas’ days are numbered and that AEG is tired of losing.

  2. Anonymous

    August 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Good stuff Sams. You are dead on.

  3. Anonymous

    August 26, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, pretty strong stuff!

  4. Sams Army

    August 26, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Okay Kartik and others, I have had three days to recover and now I’m ready to vent:

    Frank Yallop has no business managing a club of the Galaxy’s stature and I have come the conclusion that Alexi Lalas should stick to marketing and PR and let some else run the soccer end of things. While Paul Bravo has been promoted to director of soccer operations, he must still report to Lalas.

    Our team is at this point a complete and utter embarrassment to the proud tradition that we as the crown jewel of MLS has developed. Lalas dismantled the over ally young and green team Steve Sampson put together and has replaced them with an old slow team that lack chemistry, consistent coaching or even a semblance of a team game.

    Thursday night was the last straw. To be completely run off the field our OUR STADIUM, OUR FORTRESS, by the weaker rivals who share the stadium with us and for our players to lose their cool and for Yallop to play Bekcham, weary eyed from a trans-atlantic flight for 90 minutes because he had wasted all 3 of his subs early is completely unacceptable. The 3-0 scoreline was flattering to us. We deserved to lose 10-0. I don’t know why the hell Lalas forced Beckham to play versus Chelsea, and versus Chivas. Both of these decisions have worsened his injury, and have led further and further to the media circus surrounding our team. I’m tired of seeing Nagumura, Gomez, Jaqua, Nwgenya, and Finley score goals while we have slow low quality strikers and midfielders to compliment Beckham and Donovan.


    Yallop and to a lessr extent Lalas is to blame. It is Yallop who didn’t want Gomez or Nagamura anymore, it is Yallop who signed Jazic and Harmse and it is Yallop who wanted Kelly Gray and Joe Cannon. Lalas indulged him in this while allowing MLS to backload our schedule and schedule a Superliga final when class is starting at Cal State Dominguez thus depriving season ticket holders like myself the chance to see us play in our one meaningful match of the year.

    Kartik, USA 2010 and others, you were right about this team. For all the slick marketing and clever slogans Lalas is creatd, I want my Galaxy back. The team that made MLS proud, the team that was the anchor on the league. This sideshow circus is killing our team and will eventually bring the league down unless it stops.

  5. Anonymous

    August 26, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I still hate the diving, whining bastard!

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