Catching up with arguably MLS' biggest impact import
Posted: Wednesday August 15, 2007 11:25AM; Updated: Wednesday August 15, 2007 12:35PM
When Argentine legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto joined the Columbus Crew in April, he promised to pass on 10 years of experience at Boca Juniors to his new teammates. He has not only managed to do that, he's also become one of the best players in MLS and is much of the reason why his team is fighting for its first playoff berth in three seasons.
Schelotto's arrival had an immediate impact on the Crew, and the 34-year-old winger leads the side in both goals and assists, and has been a sparkplug for the team. He's clearly enjoying his first MLS season, and his sensational form has made him an MVP contender.
But that really depends on whether Columbus can keep up the momentum in a tight race to the postseason. The Crew had lost only once in their last eight matches before last Saturday's narrow 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas, and they'll need the inspiration of their main man to get back on track as they look to move up from fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
"Guille" recently took time to discuss what has so far been a remarkable season for him. He also touched on several other important issues, including his views on the league, the rise of its Latin American players and Columbus' playoff chances. In addition, he gave an insight into Boca's plans to establish an MLS franchise.
SI.com: How are you finding the level of soccer played in MLS?
Schelotto: Good -- it's at a pretty high level. Hopefully it can continue to improve.
SI.com: What did you expect when you signed for Columbus?
Schelotto: I expected to be playing here on a regular basis, and that's exactly what I'm doing. I looked forward to having an opportunity to keep on playing, and to live in the U.S. It is a very nice experience.
SI.com: You're having a great season, and lead your team in both goals and assists. Are you happy with your current situation?
Schelotto: Yes, I'm happy with the way things are going, but I'm happier with how the team is playing. We are doing well and have a good chance of making the playoffs. That's the main objective.
SI.com: Was it difficult to adapt to the style of soccer played in the league?
Schelotto: It took me time, but that is normal. I've adapted well to the different style of soccer played here, when compared to the style played back home in Argentina.
SI.com: How are you coping with the language? Do the Latin American players in the team help you?
Schelotto: Yes, they help me. I'm slowly improving with the language. Hopefully I can continue to improve.
SI.com: Do you think MLS' Latin players are leaving a good impression on the league, and from all of them, which player has impressed you most?
Schelotto: I think their influence on the league is growing. Hopefully more South American players can keep on coming to play here -- the best soccer in the world comes from there because of the high-quality players they produce. They can do a lot of good for this league. Juan Pablo Ángel has played well; he has scored lots of goals. Now Cuauhtémoc Blanco is here, and he is already doing very well.