Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bend It Like Beckham

Ninety minutes, one-oh. That's my notion of watching a soccer game, reinforced by all those years I coached soccer when my three boys were growing up. As in 90 minutes of exciting runs across the midfield pitch with two or three wildly exciting breaks into the box (ohh!) and one ball that actually goes in (ahh!!). Delirium. What a game! But beware of the zero-zero tie. Because then they play sixty more minutes of overtime. And it ain't sudden death. Oh no, it's slow death.

I went to see English superstar David Beckham in his MLS playing debut at RFK on Thursday evening. It was a sold-out crowd. The LA Galaxy paid him $32.5 million to come rejuvenate soccer in America. This is a business model that was tried in the seventies when Pele was lured to America by the NASL to rejuvenate soccer in America. That league shortly became defunct.

The MLS has a problem. This is a major professional sports league that has been around for several years. I'll bet you can't even say what MLS stands for unless you figure it out for a few seconds. (Quick! Name one other soccer player in the MLS besides Beckham. Now name two hockey players in the NHL. See what I mean?)

I bought tickets for the match last month hoping that my estranged 21-YO son would go with me (a divorce, and PAS, situation). My oldest boy was a wonderful soccer player, swift and courageous with a good kick. He was a scorer on a travel (select) team.

It all slipped away from him as the boy took the easy and intellectually lazy route to adolescent comfort in the absolute familial destruction engendered by the berserker current American domestic law system. He quit soccer along with discarding his dad as he was grotesquely manipulated by all the social-work "professionals" who routinely murder the childhoods of children to achieve gain for their client or their agenda in the insane modern American divorce warfare.

I called NOS and left a message about taking him to this game. He ignored me. I wrote him about taking him to this game. He ignored me. His Mother (I think he still lives with Sharon Rogers, two miles away) was undoubtedly proud of him, again. I went to the game anyway.

These soccer players kick the ball very hard. But the goalkeepers (us soccer parents know them as goalies) can use their arms and hands, to everyone else merely using the rest of their body. That, coupled with soccer's oppressive and incomprehensible offsides rule, means lots of 1-0 contests. Any actual scoring is regularly waved off for being offsides.

Anyway, Beckham has been nursing a sore ankle even while his traveling road show has been selling out soccer stadiums. There was a sell-out in Toronto but he didn't play in that 0-0 nailbiter. Oops.

The DC United/LA Galaxy game sold out within two days of the tickets being put up for sale. But then started a month-long watch on how his ankle was. Would he play? Likely not.

He didn't start.

DC United scored in the 27th minute. Gooooooooooooooooooooaall!!!! Um, it was exciting for sure. The guy who scored whipped around the pitch like he'd just discovered the secret to cold fusion.

And that was it. It would have been a good time to beat the subway crush.

Beckham went into a warm-up routine late in the first half. The crowd roared. The skies opened and the rain came down.

The second half came and Beckham continued his warmups. A Galaxy player was red-carded and sent off the pitch. In the 72d minute Beckham came in. The crowd went wild. Beckham played center-midfielder and suspiciously was in open space the whole way.

Not many balls came to him. But when one did, you could see the promise. His kicks curled down to the pitch perfectly for a breaking teammate to run up upon and streak in on goal. But no teammates were ever there. I think they haven't discovered yet what he can do and so they don't "create." It takes energy to create. They give you millions in the NBA to create off the ball. In the MLS they give you tens of thousands. You can do the math.

Oh yeah, it ended 1-0. Beckham had a shot on goal, from 60 yards out, easily handled by the GK (no LA player was there). It could have been a 50-50 ball. His one free kick was a fine one. No LA player was where it came down.

The LA Galaxy was off to a sold-out crowd in Boston next, on Sunday. Beckham wouldn't play in that 1-0 thriller, won by New England. Oops.

Pele, meet Beckham. The result will be the same.

1 comment:

jeanne said...

so what you're saying is you had a spare ticket to the game that i was DYING to go to???!?!


ok, i can't name any other players. but i can't name any players in any other sport either. i can barely remember my own name!