Mario Balotelli to MLS? That’s must-see TV … er, soccer

Go ahead and try to convince yourself otherwise, but Major League Soccer rumors are the greatest soccer rumors. I’m pretty sure there’s a United Nations convention on the topic. The U.N. Convention on MLS Rumor Preeminence or something. And today, there’s more evidence.

Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli could be heading to Orlando, at least according to reports from sources who probably spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to The Express:

And reports today claim that American giants Orlando are keen to bring Balotelli across the Atlantic to link up with former Milan teammate Kaka.

Take a moment to soak that in. There’s so much goodness in this rumor it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, let’s tackle the nebulous “reports today claim,” which is a hallmark of any decent transfer rumor. Who reported this? Someone. A source, maybe. But who exactly? The internet, dammit, leave me alone.

On its face, a “reports today claim” claim might make you question a rumor’s credibility, but the lack of a named source certainly doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t take this rumor seriously. Kaka and Balotelli were teammates, you know. Thus, in my professional opinion, this rumor passes scrutiny. So far.

Next, let’s look at “American giants Orlando.” These three words is where doubt begins creeping in, eroding the otherwise solid foundation of the rumor. The credibility issue is obvious: This phrase — “American giants Orlando” — wouldn’t even be true if we were talking about the NBA’s Orlando Magic, which until this year was the only major professional sports team in Orlando. Unless “American giants Orlando” is a reference to Orlando’s Disney World that got lost in translation, we’re left with Orlando City SC as the only other option for the role of American giant. Now, while this characterization of Orlando’s new MLS team may be true in a few months, Orlando City probably needs to play a few games before we can refer to them as ”American giants Orlando.”

From a rumor credibility assessment, it’s hard to take The Express rumor seriously if it can’t characterize the team correctly. That’s the sad part for MLS fans who may want to believe there’s truth behind these words. But it isn’t all sadness; The Express inadvertently gave us a gift. Given the horribleness of the Orlando Magic, we might as well all start referring to Orlando City as “American giants Orlando” from now on. It’s kind of catchy, and it isn’t as if anyone else is using the title.

Lastly, let’s address the actual rumor.

The meat of this sensational story, the star of this click-on-me piece, is Mario Balotelli. In America. Doing whatever he wants to do. That should be enough to make any person who enjoys entertainment pay attention.

On the field or in the locker room, Balotelli may not be as influential a figure as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, or Kaka. But that’s hardly important for MLS purposes. From a news perspective, and a click-rate perspective, 24-year-old Mario Balotelli in MLS would be the greatest thing to happen in Major League Soccer post-Beckham. From an entertainment perspective, at least temporarily, his presence could be bigger.

Literally everyone, everywhere would watch Balotelli in MLS, at least for a season. Sure, many perhaps for the wrong reasons, but in order for MLS to reach the next level, it has to tap into a hate-click mentality, into a must-see spectacle for any reason whatsoever. That’s not to suggest that Balotelli isn’t good at soccer — he is — but, for better or worse, the fact that people are fascinated with everything Balotelli does is a tremendous asset. Maybe not for a clubhouse chemistry, but for entertainment. And that’s why we’re here, right? Crowds would watch him milk a cow for 90 minutes.

Essentially, this is the rumor America has been waiting for — the hybrid Beckham-Henry-Carlos Ruiz to MLS rumor. If there was ever a time to start a Change.org petition, this is it. If you’re a fan of MLS or simply want to see MLS develop certain circus aspects that are conducive to leagues “making it,” your answer is here, neatly tied up in a poorly constructed but reasonable transfer rumor. It’s time for MLS fans to act. It’s time to bring the circus to America. Let’s make this rumor happen, people.

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