Keith Hickey is dead on the money on

Mario Balotelli should join Major League Soccer. Specifically, the New York Red Bulls.

Only two teams in MLS – the LA Galaxy and the Red Bulls – have shown anything like the kind of ambition and financial muscle that would be needed to prise Balotelli from Manchester. New York, furthermore, has the need to take a risk; after nearly two decades and hundreds of millions of dollars, the northern New Jersey franchise has yet to win a single piece of major silverware.

The benefits to the American parties are obvious. In the 22-year-old Balotelli, who was one of the standout players in Italy’s run to the final of Euro 2012, Major League Soccer gets a young, international star that allows it to shed the “retirement league” tag that dogs the acquisition of any player over 30.

I’m not sure it matters whether it’s New York, LA, or Montreal, which would involve a minor stroke on my part should that materialize. But Major League Soccer needs this. The cachet of getting aging stars to show off their creaky wares is wearing off.

And, as Hickey writes, Balotelli will avoid (hopefully) the racism problem that Europe seems to be perpetually struggling to deal with, and perpetually failing to deal with.

But I also think MLS signing Balotelli would be a great way for MLS to shirk the “football as serious business” that dogs the European domestic grind. Major League Soccer should be young, reckless, cocaine-addled (I DO NOT ENDORSE DRUG USE), messy, controversial, loud, cool. Spare us your Paul Mariner talking about dressing room attitudes. Let’s have Ryan Nelsens galore.

Don Garber could stand there like the statue of liberty, soccer ball in hand (red card offence, natch), calling out your disrespectful, your unmanageable, your incredibly skilled but incredibly ill-disciplined. Pretty soon, we’ll hoover up all those 21 year olds who got suspended from the French national team, then some young Brazilian prospects, then some kids from Amsterdam, then…world class.

This is the league I want to watch.