Though he recently hobbled off the field with an injury, as I had hoped, has been getting more and more minutes and he has managed to strut his stuff. Most obviously, he’s provided a much better option than Dax McCarty on set pieces. But he’s also given the team those flashes of unpredictably and creativity.

The players most able to change a game, in terms of the offense, have a tendency to disappear in games. Zinedine Zidane, who could sometimes be omnipresent in a game, but who could also be utterly useless for 89 minutes and then, in a single flash of inspiration, make the most utterly transcendent pass that split the opposition’s defenders in absolute futility, leaving a teammate freely able to bury the ball in the back of the net. Similarly, the great Brasileno striker Ronaldo could be lazy and ineffectual for almost an entire game, leaving his team with effectively only ten players, instead of eleven; then suddenly he would peel off the shoulder of his marker, flip the ball over another defender and chip the ball over the goalkeeper with shameless cheek to win the game.

Boskovic is neither a Zidane nor a Ronaldo. But the best teams need that player who cannot be counted out because he will try the most surprising and unexpected plays without warning to break down a formerly stubbornly impenetrable offense.

Myself, I will always remember my  hometown Tampa Mutiny and the great Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, the best player to have ever graced Major League Soccer. Valderrama was a difficult player, in many ways. You had to build the team’s style entirely around him or else watch everything fall apart. And sometimes, he just wouldn’t show up, figuratively speaking. But then other times, he would work magic.

I don’t even say that Boskovic is Valderrama (in truth, he was unique – the only player that compares to him in style is the Argentina’s Juan Roman Riquelme). But I will enjoy watching United so much more if they have that ability to startle, which right now only the striker Charlie Davies’ brings – and he needs a good midfield creator to serve up those chances to him (did I mention that Zidane and Ronaldo played together in Madrid?).

2 thoughts on “Branko Boskovic Gets His Shot

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