Schelotto's MLS success has even soccer-mad Argentina following
What they might have known, or at least learned, was that Guillermo was the player who had claimed the most titles in the history of Argentine soccer, including major international trophies such as the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Intercontinental Cup, after having enjoyed a decade of success at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Upon his arrival, most expected the Argentine to add a touch of class to the league, to perhaps help take Columbus out of the doldrums, and maybe to inject some South American flair into a league that was starving for more high-quality players.
Guillermo has surpassed all expectations. On Thursday he was named Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player (as well as
More importantly, the 35-year-old has played a key role as the Crew look to claim their first MLS Cup when they face the New York Red Bulls in the championship game at Home Depot Center on Sunday. In 27 regular-season matches, Guille has a competition-high 19 assists to go with seven goals.
Such an impact from the veteran was unimaginable for most, as that kind of success seemed more appropriate for world-famous Designated Players such as
"I don't think they knew what kind of player they were signing," said
Guillermo is considered a legend in his own right in Argentina, not only for Boca fans, but for those of Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata, the club where he turned professional back in 1991.
Because of the manner in which he is idolized back in his homeland, for everything he achieved during his time there, he continues to be as popular as ever these days. Even if he now finds himself in the U.S., his fans continue to monitor his footsteps and he is frequently invited to give his take on affairs at his former club.
"Here he is permanently in the headlines, but mainly because of Boca-related issues," said
Bossio believes Guillermo has transmitted the awareness he gained in his years at Boca to MLS, and that's how he has managed to rediscover his top form in his mid-30s.
"He has given MLS what he gave to Boca: energy, quality and attitude," Bossio said. "He is very intelligent, and because of this, he adapted quickly, and you can tell he is comfortable and happy. Last year, I was in Columbus with him and I could see he was very enthusiastic. I could tell that this year he was expecting to have a great season like he has had."
The success of Guillermo hasn't gone unnoticed in Argentina, and his outstanding performances for the Crew have helped promote MLS in the soccer-mad nation, and throughout South America.
Only a few years ago, MLS wasn't considered a worthwhile league to follow. It had limited coverage in South America, and with the overload of soccer in the continent, most fans wouldn't even bother taking an interest in it. But since the emergence of Guillermo, and other established South Americans like
"I don't know if he helped all Argentines 'discover' MLS," Bossio said, "but definitely with Guille there, the Boca fans have begun to follow the tournament much closely."
Boca superfan Martín agrees. "Boca fans try to watch Guille in action as often as possible," he said, "so if he plays in MLS they watch it as well. MLS has grown a lot, and whenever Guille does something of significance, they show it on TV straight away, and it allows viewers to get to know MLS better.
Not only has Guillermo achieved wide success in less than two seasons in MLS, but he has also increased awareness of the league in his country to the point that fans are now beginning to take an interest in the competition and its players. Since its inception in 1996, MLS has been looking to attract foreign talent. And although its clubs have attracted their fair share of Argentines in the past, no one has come close to making such an impression back home in Argentina like Guillermo has.
Schelotto's exploits could prompt many other high-profile Argentines to opt for a move to MLS in the near future. As Bossio says, Guille's success could "surely open the door to other players like
Beckham may have attracted the headlines off the field this season, but on it, Guillermo's contribution has been much greater. He lifted Columbus from being an ordinary side to the strongest team in the competition, and as the Boca faithful will affirm, his dedication makes all the difference for any club.