As reported on ESPN Soccernet, Chicago Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco has earned himself a call up to the Mexican National Team for their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.
The qualifiers, in which Mexico will square off against El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago, will take place on June 6th and June 10th, with the first in San Salvador and the second match at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
Mexico's training session will begin on May 27th, one day before the Fire's match against MLS leaders Chivas USA. Along with possibly missing the Chivas match, Blanco will likely miss the June 5th game against Houston and possibly the May 31st date with FC Dallas.
Having Blanco gone for these three matches raises some serious questions for the Fire. Losing Blanco would deprive the Fire of their most creative midfielder and one of their most dynamic offensive players.
If Blanco does miss these three matches, I would expect Denis Hamlett to insert Mike Banner on the left, sliding John Thorrington to the middle, and keeping Logan Pause and Marco Pappa at defensive mid and right wing respectively.
Another possible lineup would be a 4-3-3, with Brian McBride, Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko up top and Thorrington, Pause and Pappa in the midfield.
Along with raising some questions about the Fire's lineup, Blanco's departure will inevitably bring up concerns about his fitness. The 36-year-old has logged 518 minutes in 8 games for the Fire this year and keeping him fresh for the whole season (especially after he went on loan to Mexican club Santos Laguna in the offseason) is important for the Fire's title hopes.
Also, Blanco's call up highlights the issue of MLS not having any international breaks. This issue, although it has been raised time and time again, continues to impact MLS teams and players.
What do you think about Blanco being called in by Mexico? Concerned about the possible ramifications for the Fire/Blanco's legs? Does MLS need to start leaving room in the schedule for international fixtures?
Speak up and post below.