{{ article.title }}

RSL searches for a perfect 10

March 14, 2006

By James Edward
Deseret Morning News

PROVO, Utah -- In soccer circles, the No. 10 jersey is traditionally worn by the most skillful player on a team, usually an attacker or midfielder.

Reigning FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho wears No. 10 for Barcelona. Ruud van Nistelrooy wears No. 10 for Manchester United and Zinedine Zidane dons No. 10 with France's National Team.

In Major League Soccer, Landon Donovan wears No. 10 for the L.A. Galaxy while Christian Gomez wears No. 10 for D.C. United.

A funny thing happened earlier this week with Real Salt Lake -- nobody wanted the No. 10 jersey. RSL's marquee offseason acquisitions opted to go with their numbers from previous clubs, if possible, instead of inheriting Clint Mathis' jersey.

Jeff Cunningham would've like the No. 11 jersey, but Chris Brown wore that number last year, so Cunningham will wear a jersey number that adds up to 11 -- No. 74. Chris Klein decided to convince Kenny Cutler to give up his No. 17 jersey, the same number Klein wore throughout his career in Kansas City.

So when the time rolled around for the newcomers to pick jerseys, rookie Mehdi Ballouchy jumped all over the No. 10 jersey.

RSL coach John Ellinger loves the confidence and guts it takes to claim the most prestigious jersey number in soccer before ever playing a regular-season game. Ballouchy was the No. 2 overall selection in January's MLS SuperDraft out of Santa Clara University, where he wore... the number 10.