Thursday, February 11, 2010

If It's Thursday It Must Be Raúl

Another week another rumor.  Last week it was Paolo Maldini coming out of retirement to suit up for the Red Bulls and today it's Real Madrid golden boy Raúl making noises about coming to America in Thursday's edition of Marca.  On the face of it, it seems like a legitimate rumor.  He's at the end of his career and a big name who would bring more fans into Red Bull Arena.  He's also apparently a fan of the Cubs, so he has a built-in affinity for hopeless US sports franchises. 

But scratch the surface a little bit and it looks more like bored agents and sportswriters having a bit of fun at the fans' expense.  Raúl has been notorious for making eyes at clubs all around the world, only to end up back in Madrid season after season.  As a Chelsea fan I've been through all this before.  Then there was the question of how an MLS club could squeeze a Raúl and a Henry (not to mention an Ángel) under the tight MLS salary cap.  And let's face it, even if it increases modestly under a new collective bargaining agreement, as The 24th Minute's Duane Rollins today suggests it might, a 300k rise in the salary cap isn't going to make up the difference.

In the end, it didn't take long for the Red Bulls and local beat writers to pour cold water on the Raúl story, so we can probably safely throw this one on the George Weah/Zinedine Zidane scrap pile of bogus Metrostars/Red Bull rumors. 

So which aging superstar will it be next week? Del Piero?  Owen?  It's probably best not to get too caught up in the DP speculation for the time being.  Much more important in the near term is what the new Scandinavian braintrust will do to fill the gaping hole in the center of the Red Bulls' midfield.

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