Del Piero and Raul: Who'd Be Better for MLS and Why
As has become a pattern in the MLS, famous European players eventually decide that instead of trying to sit on a bench one more season with their current team, they'd rather finish their careers in America.
And now the headlines are slowly linking two more stalwarts of Champions League soccer to teams in the burgeoning American league.
They are Alessandro Del Piero of Italy and Spain's Raul.
Both are synonymous with success.
Del Piero has had a lifetime relationship with Juventus, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Raul was thought to be forever clad in the famous white of Real Madrid, only to be unceremoniously dumped when the second round of the Galaticos arrived.
In each case, MLS would be still be getting a very serviceable player, capable of scoring many goals and creating general mayhem for opposing defenses.
But which one would make the better addition for MLS? Let's try to figure this out.
The Case for Del Piero
First and foremost, Del Piero apparently has a magic touch with the fans, so that alone might be the difference.
But realistically, he has a lot more than just that.
His game has always been that of a "second striker," drifting in between the midfield and the front line.
This fits perfectly with the MLS. It's currently a league that's still developing tactically.
So just as players like Eric Cantona dominated the English Premier League in the 90's because of his evolved tactical understanding, so too can Del Piero dominate MLS because of his positioning.
Also, due to the fact that he's a creative force, he won't be as reliant on others to score goals or create them.
Finally, Del Piero is still a big name in world soccer, and his leadership qualities cannot be doubted.
He could have left Juventus following their demotion to Serie B during the match-fixing scandal from 2006-2007, but he chose to stay, leading them back to Serie A after one season.
That kind of loyalty and leadership is a perfect thing to have heading into an expanding league like MLS.
The Case for Raul
Raul is also a multifaceted talent that fits with MLS.
Like Del Piero, he isn't simply a "poacher" who relies on other players to set up his goals. He can drift from the midfield forward, or do the reverse.
And since MLS teams are now taking aim at the CONCACAF Champions League, what better player to bring in then one of the most successful Champions League players of all-time?
Raul has scored more goals (71) in the Champions League than any other player ever.
That kind of poise in big games is exactly the kind of thing MLS needs in order to potentially secure their first ever Champions League win.
The Winner Is...
In the end, Raul is simply younger.
At 34, he isn't exactly still in his prime, but he's a good deal closer than Del Piero.
The Italian (who's 37), would be a good fit himself, but isn't quite at the level that Raul still is.
This past season was actually Raul's finest in several years, where he's appeared in 46 games and scored 21 goals all told.
Del Piero appears less durable at this stage, and his numbers reflected that. In the 2011-2012 season, he's mustered his lowest goal-total since 1998-1999 (with four).
And plus there's Raul's track record in the Champions League, where Del Piero hasn't been as good.
Yet it's still a close call in the end, no matter what is considered. Each would be an amazing and popular addition to MLS. Both are extremely charismatic players and great leaders.
MLS fans will undoubtedly keep their eyes pealed for signs that one or both of these two will make American debuts in the coming months.