Footballers like to please their hosts and interviewers if they ask them the right question, in the right way. When Cristiano Ronaldo has an interview in the United States while Real Madrid get rich off touring over there, of course he’s going to throw a hint or two regarding playing in the MLS, when the time comes.
Does any player in Europe dream of playing in the MLS? Probably not. The North American soccer league is improving and even drawing a big name here and there from Europe, but it’s mostly about players who have done their time and just looking for a bit more lenient kind of football before they retire, instead of being an option off the bench for a European club that doesn’t need them as much as he’s used to.
Thierry Henry is the biggest name to make a recent move to the MLS, leaving Barcelona to the New York Red Bulls at the age of 32. Life has been pretty good for Henry in New York, who let him join Arsenal on a loan spell last season. Henry has scored 27 goals in 52 matches for the team, but has yet to win anything with them.
Can you imagine Ronaldo playing in the MLS? At the moment, no. When a player is the front runner (or isn’t he) for the Ballon d’Or after scoring 60 goals in 55 matches last season for Real Madrid, leading them to their first title since 2008 and the Champions League semifinals for a second consecutive year, it’s pretty obvious he won’t be playing in America for the next few years. At the age of 27, Ronaldo isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
But he was asked nicely, so he answered nicely – I think they do it well. To come here and do the preseason, for me it’s great, because this county is brilliant – the mentality of the people, the conditions. They are in the right place. I think the soccer here, they do it the best they can, but it can be better. So if I can help there to be better soccer here… I think they’re great, they are in a good way, and I hope to come here to play one day.
When not talking to American interviewers, Ronaldo spoke about the Ballon d’Or. He didn’t mention names, but he obviously said he wants justice to be done. What is that justice? Figure it out yourselves. Jose Mourinho is obviously doing some media campaigning for Ronaldo, but he did the same last season after Messi won the title with Barcelona. Lionel Messi broke every possible scoring record last season. It should be enough, right? Ronaldo wasn’t that good during the Euro.
One thing Ronaldo did in a believable way was talk about the criticism surrounding him. If I’d have kicked first and missed, people would have something to say. They forget I took the first penalty against Bayern and missed. Every time I open my mouth, they criticize. Every time I lift my arm up, the criticize. I’m normal, like other players. Against Spain, I wanted to score the winning penalty.
Everyone remembers Ronaldo mumbling “injustice” to himself after Portugal got knocked out by Spain, once again. I wonder what he’ll say if he sees Lionel Messi lifting the Ballon d’Or yet another time. I wonder what he’ll be mumbling then, and how much he “won’t care” about that.