Monday, November 16, 2009

Cuauhtemoc Blanco Plays Last MLS Match

For the third season running, Chicago Fire flamed out in flight over the last hurdle of the race to an MLS Cup Final appearance.

Blanco made it known some time ago he would not re-new his contract with the Fire. Two weeks ago – the timing of which would seem a procedural irregularity – he signed a two year agreement with Mexican 2nd Division club Veracruz. It makes sense because this would be an ideal way to keep match fitness through winter and get the neccessary schedule breaks to participate with el Tri in the Mundial.

November 14 is not one of Blanco’s favorite dates. Ironically, when Chicago's playoff season died one match too soon Saturday night, it came on the third anniversary of the star’s own “death” in an auto accident south of Mexico City.

Evidently a mal-intent hacker or perhaps a malcontent Televisa website employee put up the news of a police reported car accident in the area of Cuernavaca which resulted in the death of the national hero. Of course, all the papers and other news outlets picked up on it in an instant and the press wasted no time getting to his mother’s home for an interview. All she could tell them is her son was not answering his cell phone which she and other family members had been calling from the instant they had heard the new.

The pain and anxiety his family went through broadened an already deep crevice between Blanco and the media. Run-ins with interviewers and photographers had long been regular complaints among Mexican media, but if Temo was angry before, he became an injured bulldog after his “death”.

I had observed his snarly reaction to press people on several occasions at the Club America Coapa training facility, how he pushed past everyone to race off, sometimes even showering at home. A short comment or even hearing the question was never going to happen. 

The first time I interviewed the man it was post game in the Fire dressing room at Toronto’s BMO Field. Out of pure respect, I asked if he could appreciate we the press in Canada do not operate like the Mexican press, that we are not interested in creating stories, but rather, are dependant upon an exchange of mutual respect in order to get our stories right.

We had a very warm conversation.

If the 37 year old makes it to South Africa with El Tri and his presence generate unsavory comment, it will be my preference remembering the MLS Blanco I happened to meet.

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