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Should MLS take a chance on Ronaldo?


From the earliest days of Major League Soccer there have been plenty of names of superstar players who were believed to be possibilities to join MLS one day. Roberto Baggio, George Weah and none other than Ronaldo.

MLS never did get a chance to sign Baggio or Weah, but the possibility seems very strong that an MLS team could sign Ronaldo if it wanted to. Ronaldo is currently in Brazil, out of contract and working his way back from a horrific knee injury suffered last spring. His future is unclear as more and more teams in Europe seas Ronaldo as a risk rather than a valuable commodity.

The question for MLS is this. Is Ronaldo worth signing?

With the Designated Player rule making it possible for teams to pay someone of Ronaldo’s stature the type of salary he might receive in Europe, the option will be there in 2009. Now the question is whether someone should take a chance on the oft-injured striker.

The New York Red Bulls were strongly linked to Ronaldo two years ago, but nothing materialized. Might the Red Bulls still be interested in a player who could help sell out Red Bull Park and stir up considerable interest from the large Brazilian community near the site of Red Bull Park?

Whether it’s New York or D.C. or New England, you have to wonder if MLS teams would be willing to take the risk on a 32-year old with knees as bad as Ronaldo’s. Yes, he would certainly help sell tickets if he were healthy, but considering the number of catastrophic knee injuries he has endured, the risk would be extremely high.

I ask you, SBI readers, for your opinion. Do you think MLS should take a chance on Ronaldo?

What do you think? Would you want your team to spend the money on Ronaldo? Do you think he would be great for MLS, or would he be another DP mistake?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. see NE, see Columbus, see Houston… top teams currently in the league and they have ZERO DP’s… they build a quality team with quality talent… rather then bank on 1 person…. that is the format every MLS side should strive for….

  2. See Gallardo at D.C. – No where near the quality of Ronaldo, but still hurt the team more than helped. See Reyna, same thing… Spending a lot of money on a player that is going to play half of the games each season is not worth it.

  3. AndyinSeattle said it perfectly. He’s got a great upside if he’s healthy, so I’d love to watch him in the league. I just don’t want my team to be the one taking the risk on him.

  4. noone is doubting his ability, but rather his capabilities….

    the MLS is not a fenese league… it is a very physical and hacky league… alot of us feel he would simply get injured through the course of practice and games especially with some game on turf, and practice depending on the team….

    the guy has accomplished alot, but he’d be a more talented version of wanchope or reyna… again, im not comparing their talent, but rather the nagging knee injury preventing him from being his former self…

  5. As much as I like Ronaldo for the way he played, I just think his time has past. If he would have been in much better shape then probably but given the injuries he’s had, I just don’t think it would be a wise investment. Yes people may come to see him because he was a great player at one time, but not for his current play abilities.n Plus for MLS prices, he would be requesting way too much money for an overage, overweight, injury prone player. Too bad he didn’t come a few years ago when RBNY was interested in bringing him here. But now it is just too late.

  6. Ronaldo is one of the greatest soccer players. Imagine being in his position, having won everything and being the best. Where do you go from there, what more can you achieve, how does your outlook change? It would be amazing to see him playing in the States. I wish he could find a new balance and enjoyment playing in the MLS.

  7. i say yes but with reservations. but put lots of caveat in the contract. meaning lots of incentives and milestones for him to reach.

    If he comes back, i see MLS augmenting their status in the world at least to get players back on their game. or simply put, a starter league.

    if that does not work, or Ronaldo cannot come back, the team and MLS will minimize the impact on their bottom line.

    Personally i would like to see him go to LA Galaxy playing on top with Donovan. I think with the team already traveling the world in the off-season and with Beckham, you would have another trick and pony to attract the audience.

    But i would cringe just at the thought of Ronaldo playing on artificial turf like in Toronto. These fields will definitely preempt his comeback.

  8. SOME of you are either INSANE OR are really TROLLS!!!

    Expecting Ronaldo to take a garbage contract is like expecting world peace to begin next week. WHY should HE sign with MLS? Uzbek teams would have no trouble signing him up to play with Rivaldo and be coaches by Zico.

    You guys lick the #ss of Beckham while huffing and puffing about signing another “has been”. I can’t take some of you seriously that you value Beckham and his BRAND over a REAL footballer.

    What does it tell about a league and its where a fake footballer (Beckham) is valued over the genuine one?

  9. He will fit right in here with DC. Between him and Gallardo we will have the oldest, most geriatric team in the league!!!

    Seriously though, I’m worried about the loss of speed. Even if he can play, how fast can he possibly still be?

  10. If he can pass both an extensive medical exam and a fitness test why on Earth wouldn’t anyone want him in MLS? He has an ego? What truly great soccer player doesn’t–besides is it ego or confidence? He’s arrogant? Blanco anyone?

    He’d instantly elevate any team that signed him…put him on the worst team in MLS and they are instant MLS Cup contenders, not winners but contenders.

    We had no problem bringing back McBride at his age after his serious knee injury and Ronaldo is light years ahead of the player McBride is(and younger BTW).

  11. You can’t help but be skeptical with how DPs have worked out so far.

    To wildly generalize them, if I may, they have absolutely nothing to prove and it shows.

    Maybe Ronaldo would be different, I don’t know. It seems like he might have a little motivation.

  12. I can’t believe there are people saying, “I wouldn’t want him on my team.” If midlevel players like Juan Pablo Angel and Huckerbee can come to MLS and make big impacts, imagine what a former world player of the year could do!

    Plain and simple: Ronaldo, even with his injury history, would be the most talented player ever to play in MLS were he to come to the league.

  13. This shouldn’t be a topic of discussion. Hell, if he came to the Fire, I’d meet him at the airport. He has more skill than any current or former MLS player. He’s hungry again and that’s even better. Problem is that MLS isn’t competitive enough for him to develop as a player. MLS defenders – like most in the world, couldn’t handle him.

  14. When I first read Ronaldo was ready to go and out of contract, I wondered…would Ronaldo be worth money to come to the US? Take RSL for example. We are missing a forward who can regularly score for the team. Ronaldo could possibly be that answer, but his knee problems scare me. It is a toss up. As long as he stayed healthy, it would probably be worth it.

  15. No. Or maybe yes.

    We have to pretend the MLS is a real soccer league and that players, no matter their name, have to earn their way in.

    Lets look at it this way: Man Utd _sold_ Beckham and Ruud Van Nistleroy.

    So I would say: sure, Ronaldo should come play for the SJ Earthquakes, but for standard wages on a short span contract – to sweeten the deal give him free lease on a nice local house and a car. Then if he proves himself to be consistently fit and back to 1st team shape, we should offer him the kind of very lucrative contract his amazing attacking play deserves.

    And of course then the world would want him back, some Euro team would steal him away for some enormous sum (fine! the pleasure was ours)

    Of course to make it here he would have to have his fitness, his knees would have to hold up, and he’d have to keep any recreational forays within a reasonable check despite the proximity to San Francisco!

    C’mon, Ronaldo, San Jose could be your 2nd home, and this town is sick for attacking football. We appreciate you. We will never forget you, even before you’re here.

  16. HECK NO. A lot of great soccer players, especially from Brazil, are narcisistic flakes, Kaka exlcuded. But Ronaldo makes Ronandinho look humble. Ronaldo is the biggest egomaniac to hit the pitch in the last 20 years. MLS should take a pass. He’s overweight, slow, with plenty of knee operations. Do you think he’ll suddenly be motivated as a player on the pitch when the Red Bulls take on the Wizards? Wow, the history of the matchup!!!

  17. Brett: Hell, I almost always agree with you on substantive questions but in this case, I’ll go the other way. I say yes.

    Lots of really, really good points here about where he should play, possible contract setups, concerns…all of it. Obviously, it’s a topic that MLS fans think about (older stars and the risk/reward nature of bringing them in).

    I just think the guy is not that old, he would be by far…by oh so far…the best player ever to grace a roster in MLS. And I think Beckham is a stud so that’s saying something.

    Yeah, he probably will break down with some injuries. But if he does want to play the game, he’ll be something beautiful to behold vs. MLS defenses.

    I’m a bit biased because he is the greatest striker I’ve ever seen and after watching the game for 26 years, I’ve seen a few great ones. NO forward has even been close to what he was/is. So…there’s my two cents.

  18. I think it makes sense for Chivas USA, can’t be injured anymore than Razov and Gallindo!

    Seriously though, it could be very good. It could also be awful. I hope it happens and I hope it works out.

    He’s not one of the greatest players of a certain time. He’s one of the greatest players of ALL time. You have to admit it’s a little tantalizing to know it could be done. Even if it’s for only 1/3 of what he was in his prime.

  19. No. Here’s the reality of MLS right now. If you’re a good team, you’ll play 55-60 matches in a tight season with a small roster with 3/4ths of the players making 25k or less. So if you’re a Reyna, an Angel, a Gallardo, a Beckham, it means it’s critical that you plan in 45 of those matches. What Ronaldo needs is a situation where he can play once a week (if that). Look at the schedules that NE and DC had at various points, averaging a game every 3 days for 40-45 days. So you say, but what if it’s a team that isn’t in Superliga or Champions League? Oh, you mean like the LAG? Sign a really big name (like Beckham, Zidane, Henry, Ronaldo) and expect that team to start doing stuff like. oh, I don’t know…the Pan-Pacific Cup? World Series of Soccer? Tour of Australia?

  20. I think they should, but only if he agrees to a contract with a fitness/weight based clause. Fitness is a prerequisite to high level performance. However, it has always been Ronaldo’s weakness. He gets fat and starts to go out party, eat, and womanize. MLS should be able to take a risk on his knees, and protect themselves contractually from his overeating.

  21. Sure, if they can do so for no money down. Oh, and if they do, not to force him up the ass of some team that would really rather not have him around. Or invent any rules, or “player categories” to do so.

  22. I love the old Ronaldo and want to remember him the way he was. Turf will kill him in MLS. There are a lot of players in Brasilian leagues who can make MLS a better league. Go for them, no Ronaldo!

  23. Ceez – you took my comparison TOO LITERALLY… renya was expected to come in and run the field with MLS talent… i am not comparing him to ronaldo in talent wise… i am simply saying they are both aging injury proned stars who will/did break in the MLS… sorry but hearing the constant b*tching about Renya, i wouldnt be able to stand Ronaldo’s lot :-/

    again, not comparing the two talently, compareing them physically…

  24. Tom P and everyone who thinks he’d sign a weak contract determined by the minutes/goals/etc.. for income-

    he wont sign that ever… he’d more likely go back to brazil and play rather then hope he stays healthy to get a paycheck..

    anyhow, if the MLS sign him it will merely be for the weather fan fake fans he’d bring in… again id rather focus around building better teams then bringing in aging broken stars

  25. Brett:

    Please stop right there. Let’s make sure we don’t get ridiculous with our statements. Reyna is no Ronaldo. PERIOD. I don’t disagree with the fact that Ronaldo is injury-prone but you can’t compare the two. Ronaldo is a WORLD legend. Reyna is a US legend, if that. There will most definitely be a lot more pro’s with Ronaldo than there were with Reyna in MLS.

  26. I don’t understand why people fall into believing the lie that Ronaldo can no longer play. In 2006 he was the second leading scorer in the world cup and from 2007-2008 he scored 9 goals in 20 games for AC Milan. He is not the best player in the world any more, but he is still better than David Beckham.

  27. Anelka is a cancer and should never be allowed to sign with the MLS.

    As one english pundit said about him;”he is the only guy in football you could leave alone in the locker room who would get in a fist fight with himself.”

  28. im sorry, but we thought the same with Renya… we thought he’d come in and do very well… and what happened… a series of nagging injuries… and that is VERY likely to happen with Ronaldo… sorry, this would be a VERY bad investment…

    not to mention it would bring over the wrong type of fans… lets stop with the signing of aging stars and focus on upgrading our talent permanently on the field…. sign some promising youth players… bring up some academy players… look abroad to s.american youth and african youth….

  29. jloome:

    Ronaldo is one of two men in the world to win the Fifa World Player of the Year not 1, not 2, but 3 times (along with a little known player named Zidane)…He has been on two World Cup winning squads…And he is the highest goal scorer in the history of the World Cup (15). I’m sure he will be really upset to see that you think he has an ego problem.

    El Fenomeno will be back to prove himself yet again and I seriously hope he does it in the MLS. One of the greatest players of all time.

  30. Why not if you structure so the contract pays according to minutes played. If he can’t come back- no harm. If he comes back big you sell him for major bucks.

  31. roberto – he is different in every way… check out Bigsoccer, under the US mens threads…. they talk about it in detail… Subotic played for the US and now is up in the air… Rossi never had intention on playing for the US…

    this kid was NEVER a US citizen… how did he in fact slip through our hands??

  32. Listen, he is definitely just a shadow of his old self. HOWEVER, he is still a big name and I’m pretty sure he can still compete. With the Beckham BRAND here already, and with talks of Henry coming over and Anelka WANTING to play here, a name as big as Ronaldo’s can only help the popularity of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see quality here in the U.S. but let’s face reality. Soccer is growing but is still not as popular as one (I) would like. This could definitely help put people into seats and I think that at this point, that should be our main concern.

    Yes, it’s paramount that Ronaldo remain healthy but I think this is something MLS should definitely risk. The rewards could be colossal!

  33. The entire idea is idiotic. if his ego had grown so large they couldn’t get effort out of him at Real Madrid, before his second major knee reconstruction, I somehow doubt he’s going to be running much in MLS.

    This would be a craptastic waste of time, and harken back to the NASL “retirement league” days. In fact, the concept of him even coming back, 40 pounds overweight, not having played in close to a year, knee shot three times, no second gear…fans in other nations would fall out of their chairs laughing at American soccer if they pulled this one.

  34. FWIW, Brazil has incredible conditioning and rehab coaches for their national team (and bigger clubs) and Ronaldo has reportedly done an excellent job getting himself back into condition to play.

    If MLS has a chance to bring him, they should do it without hesitation. He provides instant media coverage and comes with far more credibility as a player than Beckham could dream of.

    Ronaldo, wbad knees, is still better than every other striker in the league, and with the limited number of quality defenders, Ronaldo could easily put up some big scoring numbers. Hell, Edson frickin Buddle is putting up huge numbers.

  35. ohh yeah Brian Ching(30), Brian McBride(32), Huckebarry (32), Blanco (34), Kenny Cooper (25), Cunningham (30), Man!! even if had two bad knee he can still better that most of the players we have here in the MLS and tell me who would like to see phenon or play next to a big star like Ronaldo… COme on u people.

  36. Knee problems? Ronaldo would score 20 goals a season in the mls in a wheelchair. talk about a world class player and a legend. i would go to ny just to see him play. Strike while the iron is hot and take a chance on one of the best soccer players and athletes the world has ever seen.

  37. PPL here are over reacting. Ronaldo is a High Risk/ High Reward player. Thats why any team that signs him should do so for only a 1 year deal.

    No guts no glory

  38. in my mind, he could be like a blanco.

    but twice as good.

    ye he’s selfish, always injured

    there is alot more up than down, especially if he comes to MLS.

    he holds the record for most goals scored in the world cup and lifted every trophy a player can lift.


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