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Blanco is back among friends

Chicago Fire standout, a favorite of many fans in L.A. because of his days with Mexico's Club America, takes on Chivas USA tonight.

June 19, 2008|Troy Santiago | Hoy

Cuauhtemoc Blanco faced Chivas USA for the first time Sept. 29, wearing the Chicago Fire jersey.

For fans who knew Blanco when he wore the Club America colors, and was a leading player battling Chivas of Guadalajara in Mexico's top league, this was not just any game.

Thousands of America jerseys stormed the Home Depot Center to see the former Club America star.

In the 34th minute of a scoreless game, Blanco was fouled on the edge of the Chivas USA area.

Blanco beat goalie Brad Guzan on the ensuing free kick, producing a roar from America and Chicago Fire fans.

But Claudio Suarez spoiled the party for Blanco and the Fire, tying the score in the 82nd minute on a penalty kick.

It was a great night for two major figures of Mexican soccer, who face each other again tonight at the Home Depot Center.

"It's one more game," Blanco said. "We know that Chivas USA is not going through a good time, but we should not be overconfident. We have to attack and take advantage of the opportunities."

Since signing with the Fire in April 2007, Blanco has scored eight goals and passed for 13 assists in 25 games. He has found in the MLS the peace of mind that he did not have in Mexico, where he was hounded by reporters.

In Chicago and in the rest of the nation, rarely does anyone bother him, and his work on the field speaks for itself.

"I try to have fun," he said. "I've always said that you have to enjoy yourself responsibly on the field, and the truth is that I enjoy every game and try to be responsible with my team and my fellow players.

"The truth is I'm very happy because I've found great team members, we get along very well, and you can see that on the field. . . .

"I have to worry about what I'll do on the field, what the other team does is no concern of mine. I only worry about what my team does on the field, and I try to be my best for the whole 90 minutes."

About his possible return to the Mexican national team now that Swedish Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson took over, Blanco was nonchalant.

"I just work for my team and try to do things well, and I think that you earn the calling by having good performances on your team, and when that is taken into account, I'll be there," he said, adding that a possible call excites him.

"Yes, I would like it, but it's not my decision."

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