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Sunday, July 8, 2012
Carlos Bocanegra examining options

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Carlos Bocanegra looks at the Scottish Premier League without Glasgow Rangers and predicts a Celtic runaway.

"They're going to win the league in December. It's frustrating," he said Sunday. "Sometimes I don't understand. The people in the league, they want to punish them for wrongdoing, but then they're just hurting themselves."

Appearing at Major League Baseball's All-Star celebrity softball game, Bocanegra singled and hit a solo home run off Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, then doubled off George Brett in the National League's 21-8 win over the American. It was Bocanegra's second straight appearance in the baseball event.

His soccer future is less certain.

Unsure whether he will stay with bankrupt Rangers, Bocanegra will return to Scotland on Friday for preseason training.

"I've got to explore my options," the 33-year-old American defender said. "I need to speak with the coach, as well. We kept missing each other. It wouldn't be fair to speak out of turn if I haven't spoken to him yet."

Rangers manager Ally McCoist signed Bocanegra from France's Saint-Etienne last August. The 140-year-old club, winner of a record 54 Scottish league titles, has tax debts of $32.7 million and entered bankruptcy protection in February. The club's assets were purchased by a new company last month, but the team was refused admission to the Scottish Premier League.

Rangers could be placed in the second, third or fourth tier, and Kyle Lafferty, Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker and Allan McGregor are among the players who already have departed.

"A lot of the fans now are starting to turn on the players because that's all they have left to get angry at," said Bocanegra, the U.S. national team captain. "It's just a tough situation, an unfortunate situation. Anybody who's leaving or staying , it's just a personal decision for those guys. You can't blame anybody."

If Rangers are placed in the Third Division, they couldn't return to the Scottish Premier League until the 2015-16 season at the earliest.

"Hopefully they don't put them down there, because I think that's going to set Scottish football back so far. It's such a big institution, big club over there," Bocanegra said. "I love going to work every day. It's seriously the coolest club I've ever been a part of."

During his vacation at home in California, Bocanegra has spoken a little bit with his agent, Lyle Yorks, and said he will contact him after speaking with McCoist. He's played for Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire (2000-04), England's Fulham (2004-08), France's Rennes (2008-10) and Saint-Etienne (2010-11) and could see himself returning to MLS. He attended Kansas City's game Saturday night against Houston at Livestrong Sporting Park.

"I would never rule this out," he said. "I like the league. I started here. I think it's a good league -- stadiums like this and New York. It's awesome how much it's grown. It's not a second-tier league by any stretch of the imagination anymore."