In recent days, American captain Carlos Bocanegra has been in the news talking about his search for a new club. The Rangers debacle in Scotland has left Bocanegra and several other high profile players without a team (to be technical, Rangers stopped existing as a club for several weeks, and it’s still uncertain where they’ll be placed when the new version of Rangers return to Scottish soccer).
So it’s clear, as the player readily admits, that Boca needs a club. The veteran told press after the MLB all-star game’s celebrity soft ball game (in which, by the way, he slugged a homer off Rollie Fingers) that he’s considering Europe or a return to MLS.
But if the still-in-form 33-year-old wants to play in the 2014 World Cup, he would be wise to consider another alternative: the new Liga MX.
Though a move to MLS is no longer the death knell it once was for an international player’s career, it’s clear that Jurgen Klinsmann is looking abroad for the bulk of his roster.
Despite its proximity to the U.S. geographically, Mexico seems to be a particular infatuation. The German has tried just about every Yank playing at a high level south of the border, from Jose Torres on down to the woefully under-qualified Michael Orozco.
Perhaps Klinsmann just likes the style of the attack-oriented Mexican game better. Whatever the reason, Klinsmann seems to be much more in tune with the Mexican roots of the American game than any being nurtured in MLS, particularly when it comes to returnees.
Despite solid play in MLS, Jay DeMerit hasn’t raised Klinsmann’s attention, and the chances in U.S. colors have been scarce for anyone this side of Landon Donovan who has returned to MLS from abroad.
Even given his unquestioned role at the heart of an unsettled American defense, then, if Boca wants to stay on Klinsmann’s radar through 2014, he would be wise to instruct his agent to make some calls that start with 52.
There’s no shortage of Mexican clubs that would be interested in the American, who is still mobile, can lead the defensive line of three preferred at many Liga MX clubs, and is the astute type of veteran central defender still at a premium in an attack-laden Mexican game.
For instance America, as it rebuilds for a title, could use his veteran leadership in the back, as could Pachuca, which restocked on offense but has done little in terms of veterans on the other side of the ball. And could you imagine Boca alongside Felipe Baloy for champion Santos, or maybe for Monterrey, which heads to Japan in search of what could be a Club World Cup there for the taking.
Another advantage, of course, is that Boca is known to be of Mexican descent. Though he seldom talks details, that figures to translate into a Mexican passport, and vital local status in the Liga MX. That detail will only increase the economic offering which a Mexican team could serve up, likely trumping anything Bocanegra could get from MLS or even in Europe right now.
The Mexican league has been importing players from Europe at a rapid pace this summer - particularly Mexicans - as economic chaos sweeps the continent and the local currency ascends vis a vis the Euro. Perhaps ironically, there would be few better fits for the next such move than the long-time captain of the American national team.