I was all set to jump on Jeff Bradley for making utterly horrible decisions as to the best MLS players ever to wear numbers 1-11, until I realized he meant currently. Oh, that explains Bakary Soumare. I assume a historical 1-11 is coming soon, to be followed by the best 11 players ever to wear numbers outside that range, followed by the best players currently wearing numbers outside 1-11.
I'd say "Wow, the weekly list of eleven things bit is really, really dying before our eyes," except right this second I don't have anything more useful. While I was getting ready to pick my own best players who wore whichever numbers, I remembered that certain numbers on certain teams are....
Would you like examples?
Aw, don't be like that.
The biggest cursed number for the Galaxy is #9 - after Jorge Campos was sent to Chicago, Eduardo Hurtado briefly took it over in 1998, until he was moved. Jose Vasquez took it over for the rest of the year...his last in the league. Since then, it was handed to Seth George, Brian Ching, Brian Mullan, then Alex Pineda Chacon, before settling on the back of Guillermo Gonzalez - where it never needed washing. Gavin Glinton wore it more or less proudly last year, and his reward was being shipped to an expansion team. Currently no one on the Galaxy is willing to try to break the streak.
The Galaxy probably only think #9 is cursed, compared to what's happened to it in the Meadowlands. Juan Pablo Angel finally gave the number a good home, after thirteen predecessors in eleven years. Tab Ramos wore it for a disastrous year when he gave #10 to Matthaeus. Jaime Moreno wore his traditional #9 for the Metrostars, with horrifying results. Marcelo Vega, Alex Comas, Henry Zambrano, Gilmar - but perhaps the single best example here is the King of Goals himself, Sergio Galvan Rey.
Red Bulls fans, or at least objective observers, might even consider their #10 shirt to be cursed historically, since Ramos, Matthaeus, Joselito Vaca and Claudio Reyna never made anyone forget Pele. Youri Djorkaeff uncursed #10 briefly, before re-cursing it during the 2006 World Cup.
I think the bigger challenge would be to find a Rapids shirt that isn't cursed. Must be the high altitude, if their pals in Salt Lake are anything to go by. They should take Toronto FC, and find an excorcist or something. It's like those entire teams each made a pilgrimage to touch Michael Jordan's #45 shirt, or something.
The Earthquakes uncursed most of their numbers towards the end there, except this stands out. Someone...say, John Doyle...stops wearing #3. The Quakes start winning all the time. Kevin Goldthwaite is given #3 in 2005...and the team leaves town. Just saying, you might want to give Nick Garcia another digit.
The Jorge Campos Curse followed him from Los Angeles to Chicago - fortunately for the Fire, Campos wore #1 for them, and they've managed to find keepers who wore other numbers. Had they depended on Snitko, Spiteri, Countess and Mahoney, they would have won far fewer shiny pieces of metal. Jon Busch is trying to be the Fire's second ever starting keeper to wear #1, and he has to hold off a potential Olympian.
Kansas City's cursed number is probably #15. Kerry Zavagnin seemed set to make it his own - then he handed it over to Roy Lassiter in 2001. Hands up if you'd completely forgotten Lassiter ever played for the Wizards. Zavagnin landed on his feet wearing #5, and #15 ended up being worn by Josh Wolff. Yes, I know, Wolff had some great seasons. He also wasn't the luckiest guy in the league, now, was he? Aaron Hohlbein is the incumbent, so keep him in your prayers.
Columbus had its own poor luck at #15, but looking at it another way, it's been all clover and roses since Doctor Khumalo. The Crew started out entertainingly at #12 with Sneaky Pete Marino, then acceptably to Jason Farrell, and then...well, let's just say that Buddle and Gaven are players that didn't or haven't realized their potential.
Too early to tell if Chivas USA's #10 is cursed, but no one who has worn it was in the league the next year. That's nothing compared to New England, who haven't dared to hand it to anyone since somebody called Jorge Vazquez wore it for all of four games in 2003. The Revolution #10 started off acceptably with Alberto Naveda, then devolved to Gorter, Mario Gori, Mauricio Ramos and Cate before bottoming out with Alex Pineda Chacon, who has a habit of killing shirts.
This isn't quite as bizarre, but we're going into the third straight season without anyone on Dallas wearing #2. Maybe they're going to retire Eric Dade's number? Maybe when Alex Yi realized he couldn't live up to the standard Cory Gibbs set, it became stuck in a stone like Excalibur? Who can say.
No one has ever really lit it up for DC United at #2, either, except for maybe Mark Simpson. But #25 has been a one-man curse for Santino Quaranta. Unless you think that Antonio Otero ruined #8 so badly that it weighed down both Stoitchkov and Earnie Stewart. Justin Moose is the current holder, and - you know what, maybe this is the year he breaks into the Best XI, who knows. Probably not, though.
Obviously, no Dynamo jersey is truly uninhabitable yet, but I have high, high hopes that Steppingstone Ianni will ruin #4 for them.
You know what, maybe a worst player to ever wear certain numbers list would be amusing. Maybe as Bradley expands his numerical lists, I'll do equal but opposite lists. I'll tell you right now, it's gonna be a real dogfight for that #10 shirt between Matthaeus, Travis Mulraine, and Hector Cuadros.