I hear through the MLS grapevine that New York’s interest in former German captain Michael Ballack was fleeting, if there was ever much at all. That puts the comments of agent Michael Becker in greater question, still.
So many costly Europeans tell the world of this unscratchable itch to join “Major League Soccer” – by which they really mean “an MLS team that plays in New York or Los Angeles.” Never mind that six pricey players, tops, can call tug their posh yachts into those particular ports. But details, details … right?
I’m also hearing that the Red Bulls’ alleged pursuit of Aston Villa’s Stephen Ireland may be something of a straw man. So, until the Red Bulls confirm some interest in Ireland – or some trench-coated MLS source meets me in a darkened parking garage to spill the garbanzos on it all – you can color me iffy on whether things unfolded quite as portrayed.
Not saying they didn’t; just saying “not sure.”
But Ballack could still land in MLS – assuming he understands his geography. In my head, I’m seeing some representation arm flunky, standing before Ballack and pointing, one by one, to a wall map of 16 MLS markets not near the “Big Apple” or “Southland.”
In fact, here are four MLS outposts right off the top of my noggin where Ballack might make sense:
- Montreal: They need leaders. They still need midfielders. They have room for Designated Players. His German sensibilities fit well with Jesse Marsch’s no-nonsense managerial ways.
- Columbus: There’s a good soccer audience there, one that would appreciate Ballack’s craftsmanship and veteran know-how. It wouldn’t hurt the Crew to sell a few more seats; Herr Ballack would likely assist in that regard.
- Vancouver: Martin Rennie’s highly improved side still looks like some many of us: a little soft in the middle. Ballack could help in the center of the park, although he might well balk at playing home matches on artificial turf.
- FC Dallas: As a linking figure between holding man Daniel Hernandez and playmaker David Ferreira in the 4-1-4-1 Schellas Hyndman prefers when his former league MVP is healthy? Yep. That would work.
- D.C. United: They’d have to shed DP midfielder Branko Boskovic. I think they’d happily make that swap. (Some might say Boskovic hasn’t had time to show what he can do when healthy and fit, and fair enough for that. But we’re surely nearing the moment when that argument no longer holds water.)