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Nigeria victory is a stepping stone to World Cup - Jane

Football
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By ESPN Staff

Crew signs Argentine star Barros Schelotto

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Major League Soccer locked up another high-profile international player when Argentine star Guillermo Barros Schelotto signed a two-year contract with the Columbus Crew.

Crew general manager Mark McCullers confirmed the signing on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Barros Schelotto won 15 titles with the famed Argentina club Boca Juniors. But his playing time diminished in recent years as young, budding stars climbed the ranks with the team.

He is expected to arrive in Columbus either Sunday night or Monday morning and will spend all of next week with the Crew before returning to Argentina for a fan farewell on April 29. He will then return with his family and begin practicing with the team.

His first game would be May 5 at Kansas City and his first home game on May 12 against Chivas USA.

Barros Schelotto's signing follows the announcement of the pending arrivals of England's David Beckham to the Los Angeles Galaxy and Mexico's Cuauhtemoc Blanco to the Chicago Fire, and comes one day after the New York Red Bulls announced the acquisition of Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel.

"It establishes credibility, it raises our profile in the international soccer market to have a player of this caliber to come to our club -- and be interested in coming to our club,'' McCullers said. "So it accomplishes all of those things, and obviously competitively it provides us with one of the top players in the world, certainly in Argentinian football.''

Barros Schelotto comes to a Crew team that had the worst record in the league last year and has failed to score in two ties so far this season.

McCullers declined to reveal salary figures. The signing was first reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

Angel will join former U.S. international midfielder Claudio Reyna at the Red Bulls, but unlike the other signings, Barros Schelotto will not join the Crew under MLS' "designated player rule.''

Last November, the MLS adopted what it called its designated player rule, which allows clubs to sign international players outside the $2.1 million salary cap.

Barros Schelotto came to the Buenos Aires club in 1997 from Argentine side Gimnasia of La Plata. It didn't take long for him to become one of the nation's most popular soccer stars with almost a cult following.

He scored 87 goals in 302 matches over the next nine years. Team titles followed, including Copa Libertadores in 2000, 2001 and 2003, besides world club titles in 2000 and 2003.

Several Argentine publications have mentioned that the recently completed season might be his last for Boca Juniors. "Guille,'' as he is known in his native land, is one of the most decorated players in Argentina. His teams have also won six league championships.