The Great Blanco Hope

The Chicago Fire striker has amped up U.S. pro soccer's star power. Plus, he's helping pull in Latino fans

It was David Beckham, the fair-haired English midfielder, who garnered all the headlines early this year when he decided to come to the U.S. to ply his trade for an estimated $250 million. But as American pro soccer has come of age this season—at least financially—the player most responsible isn't Beckham. Instead, it's Cuauhtemoc Blanco, a fiery striker who grew up in the barrio outside Mexico City. With an explosive season, Blanco has helped boost attendance across Major League Soccer, with the draw for his own Chicago Fire rising 60% this season, to 16,000 people a game.

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