Major League Soccer expansion: no one said it would be easy. Besides the obvious exception of those double-winning Chicago Fire showoffs in 1998, expansion teams in MLS are a who’s who of misery and woe. Fans who spent years campaigning for their city to get a team and making loud “`til I die” proclamations are usually hit with the bone-chillingly cold reality of their newly beloved team getting slapped around by the well-established.
A month into their promoted-but-not-really-promoted MLS lives, the dedicated folks of Orlando City SC are in search of a bit of warmth. Through five league games, the Lions have tasted victory just once, and that was against the Houston Dynamo, who historically don’t start caring about games until some time in August. Luckily for Orlando supporters, MLS is the league of “yup, good enough” and OCSC’s 1-2-2 record is currently good enough for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Parity blessings aside, if Orlando fans want to prove that they are made of proper Major League Soccer stuff, they need to start panicking right now, in early April. They need to feel the creeping paranoia of a three-game losing streak leading to tabloid rumors that Kaká is unhappy and looking for an exit.
Speaking of rumors, there’s this from the international gossip rags. Today, the Daily Mail suggests Orlando City is after loaded-out Manchester United starlet and current Real Madrid boot room intern, Javier “
Cuchifritos Chicharito” Hernandez.
According to the story, OCSC officials reached out last week to explore the possibility of bringing Chicharito to Disney land. His loan to Real Madrid has been productive for no involved party, and his contract holders, Manchester United, are reportedly ready to sell him for around eight million pounds.
Is Hernandez worth that kind of money to the central Floridian club? Of course not. He could score 25 goals every year for the next decade and never make back the transfer fee, let alone the bonkers salary he’ll undoubtedly command.
Thing is, “worth” is a much foggier term in MLS than in most leagues. In order for it to grow, the league is going to have to bite more than a few financial bullets in the name of prestige and notoriety. It’s how teams end up paying for $20,000-a-week mansions for way-past-its like Steven Gerrard.
A 26-year-old like “The Cheech” would never make sense to the club accountant, but as MLS looks to bring in more Sebastian Giovincos and fewer Frank Lampards, the unrealistic amount of cash needed to deliver him to Orlando is probably “worth” it. It’s just the cost of doing business for MLS.