Greg Lalas
Monday April 28th, 2008

When I first heard Amado Guevara was coming back to MLS, with Toronto FC, two competing thoughts entered my brain: ¡Ay caramba! and ¡Muy bien!

Because, for all his flaws, Guevara is entertaining. An unpredictable genius with a penchant for whining when things turn sour -- he makes for fantastic rubbernecking, a la Cops.

It's not that there's any reason to dislike El Lobo personally. He's always been a nice enough guy, who, during his four seasons in New York, signed many autographs for the fans. But he was often a wolf in sheep's clothing. (Or is that Eddie Munster's clothing? You decide.)

Guevara has the ego of a World Cup runner-up and the petulance of kid who was told he couldn't watch Hannah Montana one day. He burns bridges like Sherman burned cities. And he has a dysfunctional love/hate relationship with the media, having more than once sworn off talking to the English-language media because they had the audacity to (gasp!) criticize him publicly.

So when Toronto director of soccer Mo Johnston signed the former New York and Chivas USA playmaker, it seemed to be a deal with the devil, the soccer equivalent of Robert Johnson's crossroads contract with Beelzebub. One the one hand, the Reds, winless and on the verge of ticking off all those brilliant fans at BMO Field, would get the kind of visionary midfield play they have lacked. On the other, they would get a ticking time bomb.

But coach John Carver, who previously coached at Newcastle, seemed nonplussed by all the baggage. "I can handle players with reputations," Carver declared after Guevara's signing. "It's all about knowing how to get the best out of players and I'm sure I can do that."

So far, Carver has walked the walk. Toronto is 3-0 since El Lobo came onto the scene. He has fit in nicely with the Canadians' other major signings, former EPLers Laurent Robert and Rohan Ricketts. But there is no doubt who has been the catalyst.

Guevara had an assist in his first game, setting up Danny Dichio with a imaginative long ball for Toronto's first goal in its 3-2 win over Los Angeles earlier this month. In his second game, the club's home opener, he was fouled at the top of the box, setting up Robert's free-kick goal in a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

And in his third game, he delivered a masterpiece on Saturday, scoring two goals in TFC's 2-0 thumping of Kansas City, which was then leading the Eastern Conference. (Click on "game highlights" here.)

The K.C. victory gave Toronto a winning record for the first time in its history, and introduced the crazies at BMO Field to their new hero. Actually, not a new hero. A hero. Period. Sadly, until now, the Red Patch Boys and their brethren haven't had much cause for hero-worship. Maurice Edu was as close as it got, but it's hard to adore a young holding midfielder. Dichio, for all his size and snarl, misses two many chances to fully win anyone's heart.

But Guevara, with that spooky widow's peak and those wondrous attacking skills, is the kind of talisman to which a fan can justifiably devote hours and hours of Web-surfing, blogging and MySpacing. He will make you cheer, swoon and gasp. Maybe, if you're really passionate, he will make you howl.

He'll also eventually make you cry. Yes, the meltdown will come. It always has with Guevara, and although the Honduran might have learned a little humility in self-exile in the piddly league of his home country, the ego is a fickle creature. It can easily ramp up. And all the screaming adulators at BMO Field will be like high-octane fuel thrown onto the fire.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Never Cry Wolf. It's the story of a scientist, played by Charles Martin Smith, who goes into the Alaskan hinterland to study the "menace" of wolves. What he discovers, however, is that they are actually an important part of the ecosystem. And that they are a lot like humans. Or vice versa, depending on your perspective.

Maybe we should reconsider Guevara's meltdowns. Maybe we need Guevara's meltdowns as much as he needs our cheers. After all, like genius, it's a form of passion, expressed in a different way. And if you've got a coach who can handle it, then it's only going to turn out for the good.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.