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Rumor: Ronaldinho to play in 2016 US Open Cup?

Stop laughing. Stop it. This is for real.

Carmen Flores/Getty Images

Ronaldinho parted ways with Brazilian club Fluminense on Monday - and it would be unbecoming of the rumor mill to allow one of its favorite sons to be ignored. As nature abhors a vacuum, so does the rumor mill abhor allowing a day to pass without a 'Dinho story, especially when he's a free agent.

It took about a day for stories to emerge linking Ronaldinho to Tianjin Songjiang, a Chinese club coached by former Brazil manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo. And MLS has been mentioned too, unsurprisingly. Reporting comments made to Folha de Sao coyly describes Roberto Assis as 'Dinho's agent (true - but he's also his brother) and notes the promise from this best of all Ronaldinho sources: "You'll have more surprises yet."

And, lo, we have a surprise: 'Dinho is being courted by Corinthians USA of the SoCal Premier soccer league (formerly the Coast Soccer League). That is one of the USA's elite amateur leagues - nominally the tier below PDL and NPSL.

The club has a heavyweight technical staff. It has recently appointed Paulo Campos as its technical director. Campos has had a long and varied career in soccer coaching and administration. Per his Wikipedia page, the 58-year-old Brazilian's first significant job in football was managing Nigerian club Calabar Rovers in 1981. Campos would have been 24.

The team's head coach, also recently appointed, is Robert da Silva Almeida - who won a handful of caps for Brazil during a career that included stops at several of his home country's biggest clubs.

Corinthians USA has ambition to become a professional side (per its own website), though UOL Sport reports any formal link with the Brazilian club of the same name is now over. And the desire to see Ronaldinho join the team, possibly in time to assist with its campaign to reach the first round proper of the 2016 US Open Cup (which it will kick off in late October) is authentic. reports comments from Paulo Campos quoted in Globo Esporte:

Yes, we made an enquiry so that Ronaldinho could join the team. Assis, representative of Ronaldinho, comes here to know the team's facilities. From there, we'll sit down, think of a project and negotiate any future partnership.

Assis half-denied the rumor in the same Globo article, Folha de Sao Paulo followed up with a direct question to 'Dinho's brother and spokesman:

So there you have it: 'Dinho has a for-real offer to join an amateur club in California with US Open Cup aspirations.