Six months after telling the Chicago Tribune that he had decided to leave the Fire when his contract concluded at the end of this season, the mercurial forward said Tuesday that, "I'm happy to play in Chicago. The goal and the hope is that I'm renewed one more year with the Chicago Fire."
Blanco signed with Chicago in 2007 and is scheduled to make nearly $3 million this season. In March, he said, "My contract will be done [after the 2009 season] and I will leave happy because I have great teammates. It's a decision I made. I'm going to look for other options. I want to return to Mexico or see offers from another [MLS] team, but this is my last year with the Fire."
On Tuesday, speaking through a translator, Blanco said, "That comment was taken out of context."
Yet another bit of deception from a player known for his beguiling moves with the ball and his gamesmanship with opponents and referees.
It's been an unpredictable year for the 36-year-old. In March, he was retired from the Mexican national team and seemed to be interested in leaving the Windy City. Now he is a key figure in El Tri's resurgence and, apparently, a committed member of the Fire. In April, Javier Aguirre returned to rescue Mexico's floundering World Cup qualifying campaign and, although blessed with a corps of impressive young attacking talent, felt he needed the services of the veteran No. 10.
"The reason I returned to the national team was I received a call from the new coach," Blanco told FanHouse. "I was happy to receive the call and I agreed to rejoin the team. I was very happy to be able to rejoin the team. The new coach has brought a lot of life and now we're all on the same page in terms of communication, energy, working as a group and trying to achieve the same goal."
Mexico is now the team to beat in CONCACAF, having dismantled the U.S. in the Gold Cup final and roaring to the top of the Hexagonal standings with wins over the Americans and Hondurans at Azteca and a stunning 3-0 demolition of Costa Rica at the Estadio Saprissa. The maturation of Giovanni Dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Nery Castillo and Andreds Guardado has been key, but it's been Blanco who's been pulling the strings thanks to his uncanny ability to find space, locate the vulnerabilities in an opposing defense and make his teammates better.
Blanco said he's enjoying his new lease on life with El Tri.
"I would be very happy if I was 20 years old again and could play many more years," with the likes of Dos Santos and Vela, he said. "But I will relish the opportunity to play with them at the World Cup."
Should Blanco stick to his word and turn out for the Fire next spring, he will be preparing for that World Cup as an MLS player. That commitment obviously stands in stark contrast to David Beckham, who continues to insist that only another spell in Europe will have him fit to compete next summer. The American journalists in attendance at Azteca on Aug. 12 were pretty much unanimous that Blanco was Mexico's best player during the first hour of the game, despite being the only one in MLS.
Asked whether he thought MLS would prepare him adequately for next summer, Blanco said, "In terms of me playing in MLS and preparing for the World Cup, it's a very competitive league and it's a league that's getting better. It's a league that gives me good competition that helps me prepare for important games with the national team."
At this rate, it certainly does appear that Blanco will play in his third World Cup and first in eight years. And at least today, it appears he will be doing so as a member of the Chicago Fire.