While the major European leagues have not yet completed half of their season, the North American Major League Soccer (MLS) is already approaching its season’s highlight. The play-offs will start in November, concluding with the grand finale on December 6. During the hot phase of the season it is not just the stars such as the former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, now successfully playing with Los Angeles Galaxy, who are making a splash – for off the pitch the MLS is also making the headlines within world football. Orlando City boss Flavio Augusto da Silva recently announced his plan to lure World Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to the USA. “I am hoping to be able to sign Ronaldo for the next season. We have often heard that he would like to play in the United States”, cited the Spanish newspaper “Marca”. The overall package which is the 30-year-old Real Madrid star fascinates the club’s owner: “Physically Ronaldo is more complete than Messi and with regard to marketing he would function better in the MLS.”
Though Ronaldo has a soft spot for the USA and is presently flirting with a move, a transfer to the MLS seems to be a topic for the future. Currently the European top clubs Manchester United and Paris St. Germain are considered to have a better chance of contracting Ronaldo, should the Portuguese leave Real Madrid after this season. However, Ronaldo’s former team-mate Kaka is currently proving that a move to the MLS does not necessarily mean abandoning international ambitions. The Brazilian has dared to move to Orlando this year – and is flourishing in Florida. The reward for his so far nine goals in the shirt of Orlando City FC is a return call into the Selecao. After his nomination for the matches against Costa Rica and the USA in September the 33-year-old, who is fighting with his club for their last chance of making the play-offs, has also been nominated for the upcoming encounters against Chile and Venezuela by Brazil’s national coach Carlos Dunga.
DC United, New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas and Los Angeles Galaxy have already ascertained their tickets for the play-offs in the MLS. The Californians in particular, with newcomer Steven Gerrard, are once again enthusing their fans this season. The top team of the Western Conference have scored 53 goals in so far 32 matches and built up an attack many a European top team would wish for. In front of playmaker Gerrard, Robbie Keane, 35, and Giovani dos Santos, 26, are weaving their magic. The Irish legend Keane is currently in third place in the scorer list with 17 goals, while the late signed Mexican – formerly with FC Barcelona – registered seven scores in seven matches.
The attacking duo received a special honour last weekend. Both were invited by the baseball club LA Dodgers to their opening ceremony – and tried their arms as pitchers. Keane did much better than Dos Santos, whose throw was lacking precision and power. Captain Keane later sent a winking message via Facebook to his team-mate, with whom he played together with the English club Tottenham Hotspur back in 2008. “It was an honour to make the first throw at the Dodgers’ match. I think I have won my bet, Giovani Dos Santos.”
There are no rivalries between these two on the pitch, however. After three championship titles in the past four years, Los Angeles are striving for their next title with this congenial duo.
Hopes also rest on Gerrard, of course – who, among other things, moved to the USA to finally win his first national title. Though Gerrard won the Champions League, the UEFA Cup, all three English Cup competitions and the UEFA Super Cup with Liverpool, the championship title eluded him for 17 years, causing him in some quarters to be regarded as a great, but incomplete player despite his successes.
This should not happen to him in the MLS. He is not lacking confidence, shown lately when he shot Galaxy to the top of the table in the top match against FC Dallas (3-2) with his goal for the 3-1 lead: “I don’t have any problems with my self-confidence.”