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Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo of the Chicago Fire

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Image courtesy of the Chicago Fire and Major League Soccer.

Last year, Major League Soccer welcomed David Beckham amidst significant mainstream media coverage in North America. Another player who joined the growing league in 2007, although with less fanfare, was a legend of Mexican football: Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo. Many believe that he had much more of an impact than Beckham’s injury-plagued campaign.

He began a stellar career with his childhood side, Club América, of Mexico City. Since 1995, he has represented his country at two World Cups, along with several other prestigious international competitions. Until 2007, with the exception of two years in Spain, Cuauhtémoc had spent his entire professional career in the Mexican Football League.

Playing Career and Honors

  • In 1990, he made his first appearance with Club América. With the exceptions of brief spells with Nexcaxa and Veracruz, his entire Mexican club career has been with his childhood team.
  • During his Mexican domestic career, he played in 376 games, scored 143 goals, and had 76 assists.
  • In 1995, he made the first of 97 international appearances for the Mexican National Team. He has scored 34 goals.
  • He competed at two World Cups: 1998 in France and 2002 in Korea/Japan.
  • In 1996, he competed for Mexico at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
  • In 1996 and 1998, he won the CONCACAF Gold Cup with Mexico.
  • In 1999, he won the Confederations Cup with Mexico. He scored 9 goals, which is a tournament record shared with Ronaldo of Brazil. He was the recipient of the Golden Boot and Silver Ball.
  • He has been named the Most Valuable Mexican Player either at club or international level five times.
  • He was the top scorer in the Mexican League in 1998 during the “Invierno,” or Winter Championship.
  • Between 2000 and 2002, he played in La Liga with Real Valladolid.
  • In 2005, he won the Mexican “Clasura” Championship with Club América.
  • In 2006, he won the CONCACAF Champions Cup with Club América.
  • In 2007, he was transferred from Club América to the Chicago Fire.
  • He scored 4 goals and had 7 assists in 14 league games for the Fire.
  • 2007 Goal of the Year for MLS against Real Salt Lake.
  • 2007 MLS Finalist for Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year.

During a Recent Tour of Mexico with the Fire

blanco in mexico Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo of the Chicago Fire

Image courtesy of the Chicago Fire and Major League Soccer.

His Signature Move

During his debut with the Fire in a friendly against Celtic FC, he scored a goal, and also demonstrated his signature move, the Cuauhtemiño, against the Scots. This move begins at 2:18 on the referenced video, and the recipient was Gianluca Zambrotta of Italy during a group round game in World Cup 2002.

His Goal-Scoring Tribute

Cuauhtémoc is Nahuatl, a language in the Aztecan family, for Cuauhtli and Témoc. Cuahtli means eagle, which is also the mascot of his childhood team, Club América. After each goal, he pays tribute to his heritage with a unique celebration. He has an excellent tactical sense on the pitch. As many defenders in MLS have learned, Blanco can score goals with the best of strikers; however, his passing and playmaking acumen have made the Fire a much more potent side.

Despite some initial skepticism by his signing, Blanco has provided MLS with a marquee talent who produced immediate results. His presence has also boosted ticket sales wherever he appears. It is ironic that he represents a country, Mexico, who is the most passionate rival of the US National team. Even the most fervent US supporter would have to give credit to this tremendous addition for MLS and the North American soccer landscape.

blanco goalcelebration Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo of the Chicago Fire

Image courtesy of Club América.

ESPN Game of the Week: DC United 0 x 2 Chicago Fire

On a night when DC managed more yellow cards (3) than shots on goal (2), Chicago ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference table with a convincing display at RFK Stadium. DC United is now propping up the conference table, and has lost four out of their last five games.

Justin Map opened the scoring for the Fire in the 38th minute with a clinical finish after a deft header in the box by Chad Barrett. But in the 62nd minute, Blanco blasted a shot from about 30 meters past Zach Wells. Keeper Jon Busch kept his fourth clean sheet of the year after seven games.

Post-game Quotes

“All the credit goes to the guys on the field,” Busch said. “From the defenders to the midfielders to the forwards, those are the guys doing all of the dirty work and making my job easy.”

“We are very pleased with the result tonight,” Fire coach Denis Hamlett said. “Any time you play in D.C., you know it is going to be a tough game. We handled their pressure well early, were able to put together some good plays, and in the end, coming out of D.C. with points is a big plus.”

“We are only just beginning the season,” Blanco said. “We have to keep working and getting better each day.”

“I don’t know what to think anymore because we work so hard each week,” D.C. United veteran forward Jaime Moreno said. “I don’t think we were playing so bad, you know, we created chances but we couldn’t put it away.”

Source: ESPNsoccernet Game Report, 08 May 2008.

Steve Amoia is the author and editor of World Football Commentaries. He is a featured writer for Soccerlens and also writes for Keeper Skool.

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