Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the Chicago Fire

If today’s mission were to identify the point of no return, the one capable of tracing a before and after in the history of Major League Soccer, it would be difficult to go beyond the commitment of david beckham for him galaxy of angels: an event whose scope was already intuited in 2007 and which -according to the English champion himself- should have made a difference, tracing a new chapter in the far from idyllic history between the United States and football, notoriously overshadowed by sports more popular and of much greater reach (economic and mediatic).

At the same time we were able to discover in that same 2007 some parallel stories, of less resonance but equally significant for the movement of the mls and, specifically, for a community willing to exalt its hero. The year as a common point, as a common thread regarding the transcendental Beckham affair, but a universe of substantive differences: it would be complex to draw two more distant profiles, in form rather than in substance, compared to those of Beckham himself and of Cuauhtemoc BlancoMexican soccer legend who landed in the MLS thanks to chicago fire in April 2007, after a life at Club América and after an unfortunate adventure in European football (with Valladolid).

an abysmal distance among the most glamorous faces of football, the cover story, and the diametrically opposite image of a local hero – col high-sounding name of the last Aztec ruler – able to inflame his people with unpredictable plays and infinite generosity. A clean and perfect crossing, on the one hand, or a stylistically revised step that is the prelude to an unexpected sleight of hand, outside any formal pretense of elegance. Brilliant madness summed up in that Cuauhtemina which, after all, also brought Blanco to the fore on the world stage, an extreme synthesis of what imagination can represent for a footballer if it frees itself from the pattern, from the predictability of what has already been done before.

The ancient and evocative appeal of such an exotic name, so far removed from the more purely Western and familiar Davidfinds an even more disruptive echo of the reception Blanco himself received at the presentation, even before taking the field in a Chicago Fire jersey: 5 thousand people ready to receive ita crowd “even higher than the one who attended the team’s games on the pitch“quoting former striker Chris Rolfe on the official MLS site, recalling Blanco’s arrival.

Cuauhtemoc Blanco

Cuauhtemoc Blanco/Victor Decolongon/GettyImages

The world of American football, even knowing in theory what Blanco represented for the Mexican community, could not fully identify (not yet) in the visceral transport of a town towards a champion: if Beckham were the pass to the greatness European, towards a football experienced as a media phenomenon as well as a sporting one (with everything induced accordingly), Blanco could instead be the heart of that great leap that American football was waiting for.

On the one hand, the bets, yes, but undoubtedly counterbalanced by a global universe that pushed towards such a blow, so much so that review the market system in the MLSinstead, a more radical (and romantic) face connected to the court, no less disruptive and impactful in the most pioneering phase of MLS as we know it today (the one capable of attracting even world-famous champions).

However, to make a single media pitch about it, as a pimping move to garner the sympathies of Chicago’s Mexican community, would be biased in hindsight and it was biased at the time: peers and professionals, after all, were shocked by the type of mentality that Blanco knew how to bring into the locker room, really marking a turning point and tangible growth of the entire movement and of that specific group.

Not, therefore, a champion of the decline preceded by his own fame -trapped in the risks of the ego- but a footballer willing to immerse himself in a new reality, becoming a charismatic leader and even developing a sense of protection and responsibility towards the protagonists. of that sports world. All united, as an exact mirror of what was happening on the field of play, in the fancy and everyone funny as necessary (vital) figures both as a player and as part of a locker room, capable of keeping morale high and masterfully combining competitiveness and joy.

Along with the story of an upward movement, there is also the crucial weight of numbers and the pitch: Blanco’s balance in the Chicago Fire jersey speaks of 19 goals and 29 assists in 77 games played but, as is often the case, the valued role of the Mexican should not be sought in quantity but in quality and class, enough to place some of his plays in the gallery of masterpieces offered by MLS.

It is no coincidence that among the awards received by Blanco is the one relating to best MLS goal in 2007 He scored against Salt Lake: control of the right, left of the ball to bounce with delicacy and perfect left that generates an impregnable parabola, directed in seven. An emblematic goal for Blanco, an exemplary synthesis of his qualities and the naturalness with which he was able to transform sublime technical gestures into something deceptively simple.

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