Martin Rogers: Shevchenko's Euro 2012 form may tempt an MLS club into an expensive mistake

Some dynamic form in Euro 2012 could entice some MLS suitors, but clubs should hesitate before investing hefty money in the aging superstar.
Andriy Shevchenko has provided Euro 2012 with perhaps its most dramatic moment so far, with his two-goal haul against Sweden on Monday sending co-host Ukraine into wild national celebrations.

He is a genuine superstar, having won seven league titles, the Champions League, the Ballon D'Or award given to the world's best player (2004) and excelled in Italy's Serie A, one of the toughest leagues of all.

He has an American supermodel wife, loves the United States and is strongly considering ending his career in Major League Soccer.

Great news, right? Not so fast.

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While MLS is rarely slow to roll out the welcome mat for global stars and a handful of clubs likely will be interested in snapping up Shevchenko, plenty of evidence suggests that what appears to be a marriage made in heaven may be somewhat less desirable than it looks.

For a start, there is his age – 36 in September – that casts doubt on his suitability for a switch. Shevchenko's double against Sweden was a tremendous moment of sporting theater and a wonderful boost for an expectant host nation, yet it has little bearing on his ability to cope with the rigors of a long campaign.

The MLS schedule has grown more taxing in recent years, with grueling travel schedules and more games over a longer campaign than in the past. Players younger and fitter than Shevchenko, who battled several injuries in recent seasons, have struggled.

Then there is motivation. Fans watching Euro 2012 see a Shevchenko full of fire and passion and desperate for success. That is to be expected. This is his final tournament with the Ukraine national team and the most important moment in his country's sporting history since gaining independence.


Anyone who expects the same level of intensity week-in, week-out playing against the likes of Chivas USA and the Vancouver Whitecaps is delusional. Indeed, Shevchenko is not even sure he wants to keep playing following the championships.

"I will decide after Euro 2012 what I'm going to do," Shevchenko told Sports Illustrated. "Whether I will carry on in football or maybe finish, whether I'll move in Europe, stay in Ukraine or have the opportunity to come to the U.S. and play.

"I'm very interested in playing there. I've seen the level of the football every year is getting better and better. Also, I really like America."

If he does opt for MLS instead of the golf course, it must be asked whether the true motivation is to make a splash on the field or to simply pad his already ample retirement fund.

Shevchenko and his wife, supermodel Kristen Pazik, would add glamor, but the multi-million dollar salary he would command must be accompanied by performances to match. While a Shevchenko at his peak would have torn through any MLS defense with ease, he is a long way removed from his heyday, despite the excitement of Ukraine's opening Euro victory.

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Ukraine's domestic league, where he returned to play for Dynamo Kiev the past three seasons, is significantly superior to MLS. However, his performances of late have been decidedly ordinary. Though the mind is still sharp, the flesh, and in particular his stamina, is sadly weakening.

None of these doubts are likely to stop a clamor for his services. The Los Angeles Galaxy could have a spot available at striker with rumors linking Robbie Keane to a return to English soccer.

The New York Red Bulls are committed to acquiring high-quality talent and have announced they want to add a third Designated Player before the end of the current season.

Then there is D.C. United, one of the league's founding members which has fallen on hard times but is determined to spark a revival. Pazik is from Maryland, and the couple regularly spend time in the area, and are even members at Congressional Country Club.

MLS clubs can do themselves a favor by leaving Shevchenko in the clubhouse and saving themselves from making an expensive mistake.

Martin Rogers is a soccer columnist for Yahoo! Sports and the host of Goal Daily Podcast