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The seven 'sins' of Cuauhtemoc Blanco

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

They don't like Cuauhtemoc Blanco at D.C. United, where the Chicago Fire's Mexican superstar is guaranteed to get an angry reception from the RFK Stadium fans on Thursday night.

However, that is just the way the controversial 35-year-old likes it as he will be looking to continue his excellent early season form against the team he dumped out of last year's playoffs.

Blanco was cast as the villain in a two-legged matchup that defined his first season in Major League Soccer. From United's point of view, Blanco was a sinner – a cheat and a diver who conned the referees into giving his team an unfair advantage. Yet it is the pushing and stretching of the rules to the limit that makes him so effective on the field – and so entertaining to watch.

Here is how the Seven Deadly Sins apply to Blanco and why he is such an influential character to the Chicago cause.

THE SEVEN 'SINS' OF BLANCO

Lust. When Blanco arrived in the United States with a giant contract and a big reputation, many questioned his commitment levels. However, it took no time at all for him to prove he is still a born winner who is desperate to finish his career on a high note. Blanco craves winning and knows no other way than to fight and strive for greater achievements. It doesn't matter if MLS is a lower level than he has been used to in the past. His desire has not dimmed at all.

Gluttony. Blanco will never be a prime physical specimen. At times, with the way he shuffles around the field, he does not even look like a soccer player. Currently, he seems to be in good shape, having silenced the whispers of weight problems that have occasionally dogged him in the past. It is vital for him and the Fire that he stays in reasonable condition and avoids the sort of injury that could ruin the club's season.

Greed. Blanco is by no means a selfish player, but he often uses greed to his advantage to add unpredictability to his game. As his legs continue to age and lose some of their sap, his preferred option in most cases is to lay the ball off to a teammate and create chances. However, he knows that by making runs into the heart of the defense, it forces the opposition to pay close attention to him, opening up space elsewhere. Occasionally, what appears to be a selfish play is actually anything but – Blanco is just thinking two steps ahead.

Sloth. If it looks to a casual observer that Blanco spends half his time flat on his backside that’s because, er, he does. But he's not being lazy. He is being clever and, some would suggest, conniving. It is not giving away any big secret to suggest that Blanco goes to ground very easily, making him a nightmare to defend especially with the generally poor standard of refereeing in MLS. The way in which he leaves a leg trailing makes it hard to judge whether he has been fouled or not and frustrates defenders to the point of distraction.

Wrath. Over time, Blanco has learned the value of constructive anger, but he is clever with it. He knows when to pick his spots when it comes to getting in an opponent's face or arguing with a referee. Unlike many players, he can be gesticulating and steaming one minute, but still retain enough composure to play a delicate chip over the top of the defense just seconds later. That makes him dangerous and unpredictable and keeps defenders thinking constantly.

Envy. All through his career Blanco has possessed the ability to make himself the object of hate from opposition players and fans alike. But if those same supporters were given the opportunity to have him on their team, most would jump at the chance. Make no mistake about it, by the time Blanco is done with MLS, he will be despised by at least half the fans in the league. Yet he has big enough shoulders to handle the jealous boos and jeers, and he actually uses them as fuel to fire himself up, rile the opposition and control the game.

Pride. Fans of Mexico's Club America, who believe there is no room in Blanco's heart for any other team than theirs, won't like this, but the man is proud to be a Chicago Fire player. He has found the lifestyle of the Windy City (weather excluded) and the spirit of the club to his liking and is determined to lead the Fire to success. It is that very ethos that makes him such a threat and why Chicago is emerging as one of the favorites for the MLS Cup this year.