Stop me if you've heard this one before: Big name footballer, slightly past his prime, mentions MLS in a sentence, and every team stateside goes on alert. This week, it is former West Ham/Manchester United/ Manchester City and current Juventus striker Carlos Tevez that is the belle of the MLS rumor ball. This time around, it is soccer writer extraordinaire Grant Wahl who is whispering these rumors to the U.S. soccer media, while also taking note that it could be a leverage play to improve his next contract at Juventus.
Tevez is a powerful, determined, and passionate player, who seems to attack the goal with the tenacity of a pack of wolves. He scores big time goals at important times and in big competitions. He has also played with three of the biggest clubs in the world and has plenty of experience for the Argentina National Team.
While Tevez is a known commodity who can certainly still play the game, he would travel to MLS with plenty of extra baggage fees for the controversies that seem to follow him. His third party ownership cost West Ham £20 million in compensation to relegated Sheffield United in 2009, while he notably has clashed with managers when pulled from important games.
What would a Tevez-led front line mean for Orlando City? Hypothetically speaking, of course:
- Tevez's attacking style embodies the kind of striker I believe fits Adrian Heath's system the best. Unlike many of our present day strikers, who seem lost on an island unto themselves waiting for service, Tevez is the type of player that involves himself in the attack. He will win the ball when the opportunity arises. While known for his goal scoring, his ability to involve himself in the attack means he can be a creator, as well as a poacher.
- Name recognition doesn't hurt a new team looking to create a name for itself. The signing of Kaká certainly helped put the club on the map, but a few more stars would help cultivate that image. Not to mention, just imagine a Kaká and Tevez pairing. The other team might not ever see the ball.
- Experience is key for Orlando right now, and Tevez has it at the most important levels. With a legion of young strikers and play-makers on the roster, a player of Tevez's caliber would add locker room and on-field intangibles beyond measure.
- Tevez is a competitor. I don't think he has an off button. Of all the star players linked to MLS, this is one that won't be heading over for a prolonged testimonial match on American soil. That tenacity, while helpful to all clubs, could certainly help an Orlando City club still trying to establish its winning ways in MLS.
- As mentioned above, controversy seems to follow Tevez. Without being judgmental, he has an image problem that never seems to get fully cleaned up. At each new club, it seems to be something new.
- The dark side of his intensity makes him a bit fiery, creating some of the on field controversies. While these incidents have been limited to a handful of matches, a player like Tevez could easily upset a locker room. While Kaká has proven a positive face for the club to put forward to the community, Tevez would be a different sell completely.
- Tevez has also proven to be a bit of a mercenary through out his career. He's a smart, modern player who understands he has a short career to make as much money as possible for his family. I can't fault him for that, but I'd also add a player like that to my payroll only after asking a lot of questions.
- Tevez is an Argentinian. Nothing wrong with that per se; it's a great country with great people. However, Orlando City has already invested millions in marketing to Brazil, whose soccer fans aren't known to be very pro-Argentinian. The signing of Kaká and numerous other links with Brazil are expected to pay dividends in tourist dollars, overseas exposure, and hopefully an extended link with the country and its players. It's not that Brazilians wouldn't support a team with an Argentinian on it; it just wouldn't be an additional draw.
- At 31, he is young enough to have four or five more great years in him. That would push the young DP talent Orlando City has to the bench or the transfer market. Sure, Cyle Larin and Bryan Rochez are still working on settling in at the club, but I'm not sure I want either of them stuck behind an aging Tevez. Then again, if he isn't playing well, you can just sub him out, right?
I think Tevez could link up with an MLS club one of these days, but I'm not sure he fits the plans here in Orlando. Some might argue his tenacity and competitiveness are exactly what the young club needs, but I think there are better, less expensive options out there that the club would be more interested in pursue. I think he'd be a good fit on an Eastern Conference team like tonight opponents D.C. United. With that thought in mind, I'm glad he's not lining up with any of our opponents any time soon.