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Blanco's Own Beckham Mission
SI.com, August 27th, 2007 4PM

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Two months ago, the Chicago Fire had only won one of its last 12 games and was in danger of becoming the worst team in MLS, but a lot has changed at Toyota Park in the last two months. Juan Carlos Osorio replaced Dave Sarachan as head coach, Chris Rolfe returned from injury and the team signed veteran striker Paolo Wanchope, but of course none of these events have had as much impact on the Fire's turnaround than the arrival of Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

Blanco was at his best again on Saturday, orchestrating nearly every attack mounted by the men in red as Chicago brushed aside Kansas City, 2-0, thanks to a goal and an assist from the Mexican international. Often referred to as brash and polarizing, Blanco since his first press conference with the Fire has cut nothing but a humble, team-oriented figure. "I know the team is going through a bad patch, but I think if we come together in solidarity, we can raise the team," he said during his first press conference after joining the team.

As an SI report points out, Mexican stars don't have a long history of success in MLS. In fact, contrary to popular belief, MLS doesn't have as many Latino fans as one might expect. "MLS is not a very Hispanic-looking product at the moment," says David Downs, head of Univision Sports, adding that MLS games need more Hispanic flair to become popular with Univision's audience. To that point, players like Blanco, Juan Toja of FC Dallas, Carlos Marinelli of the Wizards and Juan Pablo Angel of the Red Bulls, are surely steps in the right direction.

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