DS, 10.18: The Beckham Singularity; Rich Joseph; Milosevic(?!); King Diablo + Thoughts on the Final Weekend

– Having already rambled at length on David Beckham’s black-hole-esque capacity for distorting LA’s play, adding even a little more seems like overkill.  Still, a quote from Andrea Canales’ ponder piece on the Beckham-effect for ESPN sufficiently reinforced a key point in my thesis – e.g. that LA, as a team, remains in awe of Beckham – that I feel moved to pass it on:

“We need a little more time training together to get in sync more. We’re all missing that from David’s perspective, I think,” said Landon Donovan. “It’s a tough thing to try to work him back now, but we have no choice.”

Here’s the thing: LA’s future is right now, which points to the wisdom of continuing to do the things that got them back in playoff contention in the near term.  Beckham has ample talent, but he’s not helping the team right now.  Long story short: the Beckham singularity – the weight of his stature and personality – has disjointed LA again.  If the team isn’t firing with him on the field yet, don’t play him.

– New England Revolution (or, probably, the league) finally made Shalrie Joseph one rich Grenadian (I must credit USSoccerplayas.com for getting the story to me first).  This makes New England’s long-term future look quite a bit different than it did at the end of 2006, when Dempsey left and Shalrie looked all but gone.  This significantly shortens Steve Nicol’s shopping list.  Oh, and Jay Heaps re-upped as well.  I don’t mind Jay so much…not a popular opinion, I know.

– Sorry, hung up on New England.  They should do two things in 2008: go out and spend on quality players to fill out an already solid roster, as opposed to trying to plug gaps with rookies out of college.  That and go to a back four.

– Looks like former Aston Villa (and many more) man Savo Milosevic is getting in an early tryout with Toronto FC.  I wonder about his age.  That is all.

– Word of the Marco Etcheverry testimonial has me wishing I still lived in DC.  The shirts they’re hawking – thanks to The Offside Rules for posting the image – has me wanting to buy gear for the first time in forever as well.  I tell ya, it’s got a nice concert T-shirt vibe.

Finally, the weekend…

I’m still waiting for MLS to pass rights to Sunday’s final regular season game between LA and Chicago to the ESPN “family” of networks; then again, that one might not matter as much when the sun comes up on Sunday.  I’m happy to see the Fox Soccer Channel has a good one for this weekend – Chivas hosting Houston for the Western crown – so no tiny, computer screen window for at least one game and it should be worth it.  Tiny-screen viewing will be in order for at least one of the weekend’s other games, though it most certainly won’t be for DC United v. Columbus; not a lot to play for there.  If I’ve got time for only one game (as it looks like I do), I think I’m going to have to go with FC Dallas v. KC; if there’s a runner-up in the mix, that would be Colorado hosting RSL.  New England v. Toronto….eh…

LA 1-1 Red Bull: A Call for Group Therapy

If you care at all, you know that LA and Red Bull tied 1-1 last night – even if, at time of writing, MLSnet.com’s headline reads “Galaxy win again, keep hopes alive.” But, I ask that you bear with me through a digression – which relates to that game – to get at something about that draw.

Back in high school, we had this program called Natural Helpers. Comprised of students, Natural Helpers were meant to provide peer counseling, a kind of sympathetic ear that troubled students would be more willing to talk into as they sorted out teenage doubts and frustrations. Their fellow students volunteered people for the program, presumably due to their talent for listening or capacity for sage advice.

No one ever volunteered me for Natural Helpers (vague misanthropy fits poorly with the program), but one of my sisters made it in, allowing her to tell me a bit about the group – and, more specifically, about orientation. Everyone knew about the retreat, which involved a chaperoned weekend in the woods for all the new recruits. Everyone also knew what went on over that weekend: the kids got drunk, smoked acres of weed, shed tears over the tyranny of parents/social institutions and the cruelty of kids at school, and, after drying the tears, vigorous, healing sex ensued.

At least that’s what happened at my high school…I still regret that negative creep vibe.

But, if 60 Minutes (or maybe 20/20) is to be believed, the Natural Helpers program at my school might have been an aberration. A report I saw some years back portrayed a very different, deeply earnest program. Students in this version of Natural Helpers attended workshops on peer pressure and conducted trust exercises – all while sober. One workshop in particular got to the students: one where they had to walk a circle of their friends/fellow-Helpers, look them in the eye, and say “NO!” to them. They would all collapse into sobs by the third, or even second, friend. Very emotional stuff. Continue reading