Soccer America points out that Alessandro Nesta is joining an elite group: World Cup winners to play in MLS.
Nesta signed with Montreal on Friday and should be on the field soon for the expansion side. So the list now reads as such:
- Branco (MetroStars, 1997); played for Brazil in 1994
- Lothar Matthaeus (MetroStars, 2000), played for Germany in 199
- Youri Djorkaeff (New York, 2005-06), played for France in 1998
- Denilson (FC Dallas, 2007), played for Brazil in 2002
- Thierry Henry (New York, 2010-12), played for France in 1998
- Alessandro Nesta (Montreal, 2012), played for Italy in 2006
The thing is, it’s a highly imperfect list as the two elements (World Cup and MLS) cross. Most of the names were either MLS busts like Matthaeus or Denilson or they weren’t central figures on those World Cup teams.
Branco was a red card waiting to happen for that bungling New York side back in 1997.
Matthaeus, among the defining MLS busts, was famous for his jogs in Central Park with his girlfriend. On the soccer field he was apathetic at best, quickly coming to symbolize what everyone did not want MLS to become: a retirement home for stars on the wane looking for a final, easy paycheck.
Djorkaeff was a peripheral presence for the title winners at France ’98 and was still a quality talent upon arrival into Giants Stadium for New York. But he started having trouble staying healthy and keeping himself on the field by his second year there and New York faded accordingly.
Denilson was just awful.
Henry falls into the second category mentioned; he’s been stellar in MLS but he wasn’t a star when France prevailed as hosts in 1998. Just 20 years old at the time, he did finish with three goals, playing mostly off the bench. Henry did not appear in the final outside Paris, although France ’98 became his global coming out party.
Nesta was, in fact, a central figure on Italy’s 2006 championship team, although he was injured during the tournament and did not appear in the final – the famous Zinedine Zidane head butt game.