Beck’s Debut: A Sloppy First Kiss

Well, it finally happened. David Beckham finally hauled his Goldenballs onto a Major League Soccer (MLS) field and played for our little league. Was it good for you?

Me, I feel a bit let down – but I don’t blame Beckham for that. When he finally came on, Beckham may have tenderfooted it around the field, but he also managed a trio of solid long passes – notably the probing pass down the left that ended with Troy Perkins upending Landon Donovan – as well as showing smart movement and cleverly quick possession passes. All in all, Beckham did fine for a moderately hobbled player. I wager he’ll help his team down the stretch, perhaps a lot.

And, great googly-moogly, does the Los Angeles Galaxy need help. Whether it’s nerves or talent, their almost comically wayward passing highlights the risk taken by MLS in relying heavily on a team that failed to make last year’s playoffs – and that stands a fair chance of missing them again. Credit to DC United for making space tight out there – that’s kind of a trademark for them – but, even with their movement vastly improved over their disastrous Toronto outing, Galaxy players still look frickin’ lost. The steady turnover of players – a decision now being defended in increasingly convoluted, even defensive, language (see “Schedule from Hell” section) – has the Galaxy stuck in something like permanent preseason; the “process” to which Lalas alludes doesn’t look nearly completed, a real problem with the need to win games starting last Sunday and continuing through last night.

To return to the first kiss analogy, consider Beckham an intriguingly deep and tender kiss…while the rest of the Galaxy amounts to a rough, mildly painful groping of our collective breasts.

Other random observations:

The link up there takes you to Ian Plenderleith’s (USSoccerplayers.com) recollections of the evening. It’s a worthwhile read and I’ll be borrowing more from it later. Steve Davis’ piece for ESPN is also worth a read.

– Dude, give Michael Wilbon a fucking broadcast job! That dude sounded as sharp and well-versed on soccer as the three lifers in the booth, if not more so. Add an impressive historical perspective to that resume as well. He was easily the best part of the first half…whoa…that ain’t good.

– Whoops. DC United deserves mention here (doesn’t it somehow seem appropriate, though, to treat them as an afterthought?). DC, unwisely cast as the Washington Generals in this game, soundly outplayed the hoped-for Harlem Globetrotters; where’s Real Salt Lake or those “new-look” Colorado Rapids when you need them? Take away Ben Olsen’s shocking early miss, Troy Perkins dropping a ball that led to a corner, and DC didn’t do much wrong last night. They didn’t exactly light it up, either, but certainly deserved the win.

– LA ‘keep Joe Cannon’s late save on Jaime Moreno atoned for his earlier gaffe that allowed Luciano Emilio’s winner (HT: American Soccer Daily for providing the correction; I had originally named Emilio as the guy who attempted the goal.). Cannon can’t help it if his team can’t score…though he could stand to put the ball in play quicker.

– What about Landon Donovan’s plea for a PK (sometime in the second half)? Put it this way: I wouldn’t have been surprised if he got the call, but I also wasn’t surprised he didn’t.

– Kyle Martino’s red card? I’m a wimp about watching injury replays; I’ve experienced enough of those kinds of injuries to know what they feel like, so I mentally relive the pain every time I see them. As such, I saw what happened to Fred’s foot/ankle and couldn’t watch any more replays. From what I did see, I think the red was justified. There’s a good discussion of this toward the end of Plenderleith’s piece; got the checkbook ready, Kyle?

– The stray talk about Marc Burch I’d read on DC blogs held up pretty well to scrutiny; he does look pretty good. And that surge into the box? Pretty impressive thing out of a left back (yeah, I know he’s converted forward).

– I didn’t understand the decision to start a central midfield of Kelly Gray and Kevin Harmse. Maybe Peter Vagenas is hurt, I don’t know, but I thought he’d work better with either of the two as opposed to having those guys work as a tandem. And if Gray, whom I usually like well enough (he’s a good University of Portland guy, after all), was supposed to provide sharp passing, the experiment totally failed: I can’t think of an LA player who gave away the ball more often. If there’s an anti-matter equivalent of the Man of the Match, it was Gray.

– Actually, that returns to Alexi Lalas’ talk of trying to find players capable of holding up under the weight of the Beckham circus. Is Edson Buddle anyone’s symbol of grace and poise under pressure? Hell, is Landon Donovan?

– I’m really, really starting to doubt LA will pull it together in time. If they fail against New England, well, let’s just say their “games-in-hand” cushion is shrinking. Which is another way of saying I’d write them off if I had the wontons.

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7 Responses

  1. Nice recap, I would just like to give major props to the supporters groups for supporting DCU amidst all the Beckham fan boys. I was standing with La Norte for the first time and it was a blast.

  2. Good summary. Its kind of hard to blame Yallop for the season so far. In fact, I kind of blame Lalas and all the trades he’s made. Just think of the players who are excelling in the league who used to play for the Galaxy (Nagamura, Findley, Ngwenya, etc.) Combine that with the schedule and it seems that the best manager in the world would have a hard time.

    The playoffs are out of reach now. Its not just the loss of points but the loss of cohesion and morale that’s got to set in with the way we played last night. We will just be the Beckham traveling circus for the rest of the season; helping other teams prop up their attendance figures.

  3. […] News Wire, 08.10.07: Talking Heads, Bad & Good; Weekend Viewing – Down below, I had some good things to say about the time Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon spent […]

  4. Dang, Doug. That’s a harsh realm, dude (shit! Did I just write that?). Sadly, I think you’re on to something…

  5. Harsh? Did you see them play? I couldn’t tell if it was just bad passing or no one was anticipating the ball. It seemed like all of them, except possibly Donovan, panicked when a DC player challenged for the ball.

    We’ll make the playoffs when our marketing guru Alexi Lalas is gone.

  6. Hmmm…I was using “harsh realm” by way of stoner-speak.

    But, yeah, LA was fucking awful. My last comment in the original post betrays my cowardice at failing with predictions. If LA loses to New England this weekend, I don’t see how they crawl back – especially now that they have to compete with Eastern teams to make the playoffs.

  7. […] and favorite excerpt, we have my buddy Jeff Bull, formerly of It’s a Simple Game and now of Center Holds It. He provides us with an excellent post on Beckham’s debut in the midst of LA’s season […]

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