New England Soccer Today

Why Ronaldo Should Consider New England

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Miami. New York. Los Angeles. To no one’s surprise, those were the locales listed as potential landing spots for Cristiano Ronaldo in an article on that detailed the Portuguese superstar’s reported interest in coming to MLS in 2018. But the best fit is actually Foxborough.

The most obvious reason why the decidedly unglamorous town is better suited for Ronaldo is the dense (and soccer-crazed) Portuguese population in southeastern New England. During Portugal’s last two visits to Gillette Stadium for friendlies in 2013 and 2014, a combined 118,000 fans showed up – and that was without Ronaldo even stepping onto the pitch for either occasion. Imagine the fervor if the Revolution billboards around Boston read “Cristiano Ronaldo. Here.”

Ticket sales and fan passion are only part of the equation, of course. Ronaldo will be 33 when his current contract at Real Madrid expires, leaving at least 2-3 years of high-level soccer still in the tank. While plenty of over-30 superstars have crashed and burned in MLS over the years, it’s important to note that Ronaldo will be competing for a World Cup roster spot at that time. Thus, the temptation of taking it easy in the States won’t be an issue.

Another thing that may work to the Revolution’s advantage may actually be one of their most visible pain points: Gillette Stadium. Although the artificial surface isn’t quite a selling point for foreign stars, the fact that the Revolution’s home grounds can seat up to 68,000 gives Ronaldo the largest possible stage in MLS to showcase his world-class talent.

Then, there’s this: prior to the signing of Jermaine Jones last summer, Revolution investor/operator Jonathan Kraft told New England Soccer Journal last year that the organization would be interested in bringing a big name to the area if there was interest from the player, as well.

“If there was a global name at the (David) Beckham level that wanted to play in this market, we would talk to him seriously about doing it because he would obviously move the needle,” Kraft said. “You’d have the competitive aspect — which still comes with the risk — but he would move the needle for us and the league in a big way.”

Is there any question about CR7’s power – both as a player and as a personality – to move the needle in a big way?

The Revolution reportedly tried to court another Portuguese star – Luis Figo – a few years ago, but were rebuffed when they didn’t see eye-to-eye on the price point. You have to think that the brainstrust, at the very least, will be thinking about the another chance to bring in a marquee Portuguese player – and at an earlier stage in his career than their previous target.

Granted, Ronaldo will undoubtedly cost the Revolution much more than what a 37-year-old Figo demanded. Then again, Ronaldo would probably sell far more navy blue jerseys, hats and scarves than any other player in club history. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a 33-year-old Ronaldo could move more merchandise than a then-40-year-0ld Tom Brady in and around Patriot Place in 2018.

Obviously, three years quite a ways away. Plenty can – and will – happen between now and then. But given Ronaldo’s reported interest in MLS at this juncture, it’s impossible not to think about where he’d land should he put pen to paper on an MLS contract.

Yes, the Portuguese playboy would probably love to call sunny and glamorous LA home. He’d probably enjoy playing in New York, the city that never sleeps. Ditto for cosmopolitan Miami – that is if the Beckham-led endeavor can get its house in order in time to have a franchise by Ronaldo’s ETA.

However, if he wanted to go to place where he’d be more than just another superstar in a big city, a place where he’d be virtually worshipped, then Foxborough is the best MLS destination for him. And it’s not even a contest.

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