Just got the new issue of MLS Magazine in the mail. This issue is all about the storied history of Mexicans in MLS.
Wait, did I say storied? Well, let me see... there has been a long history of Mexicans in MLS as a few high-profile players were in the league at the start. This league has seen a wide array of high-profile Mexicans throughout its history... but storied?
Well, let me rephrase it then: this issue is all about the long and perhaps less-than-stellar history of Mexicans in MLS.
When you consider the proximity to Mexico and the number of Mexican soccer players capable of playing in MLS, it's sort of difficult to imagine why there hasn't been a greater number of Mexicans who have played in MLS. Financial issues are one obstacle I think that has kept more in-their-prime Mexicans from coming here. I know many were hoping Adolfo Bautista would join an MLS team but with a transfer fee and the salary he'd command, even in the DP era Bofo would be too expensive.
But there also hasn't been a great number of young up-and-coming Mexicans head north, perhaps for the same reason. Chivas USA tried to use both the in-their-prime and up-and-coming players but Juan Pablo Garcia left after 18 months and is now mired on Jaguares' bench while Francisco Mendoza is the only real Mexican prospect to blossom in this league.
Perhaps the biggest success story is this issue's cover boy, and that's Cuauhtemoc Blanco. He has far exceeded my expectations and has been a pleasant surprise to many in the league as well. You maybe would expect that given his salary and his starpower but to see it come to fruition on and off the field has been amazing. He's delivered in many ways that the other league's high-priced DP hasn't in that he helps his team win games and not just sell tickets.
Blanco might be the first Mexican to lead his team to an MLS Cup title. I don't know how many Mexicans have won an MLS Cup title.
Quick stream-of-consciousness aside: Jorge Campos was with Chicago in 1998 but I'm not sure if he was still on the team when they won the Cup, he may have been but Zach Thornton was the starting goalie for them in 98... Hermosillo and Hernandez didn't win the Cup with the Galaxy... Abundis was on New England when they were in the 06 Cup...
Okay, so perhaps we have one Mexican player who has won an MLS Cup.
Still, that's not to say there hasn't been a number of talented and prominent Mexicans come through MLS. In this edition, there is an All-Time Best XI Mexicans... let me know if you agree:
G: Jorge Campos
D: Duilio Davino
D: Claudio Suarez
D: Ramon Ramirez
M: Cuauhtemoc Blanco
M: Juan Pablo Garcia
M: Francisco Mendoza
M: David Patino
F: Missael Espinoza
F: Carlos Hermosillo
F: Francisco Palencia
Some of the honorable mentions include Luis Hernandez, Damian Alvarez and Hugo Sanchez.
I think that list is somewhat by default. Duilio Davino for instance hasn't exactly been a pillar of strength and consistency with FC Dallas but the options behind him were slim.
Anyway, with Blanco leading the charge, this may be the first year a Mexican player has a huge influence on an MLS Cup champion... or as we've seen perhaps any influence at all. And then perhaps that can help that history become storied.