Beckham brings A-game to Galaxy's SuperLiga victory
Posted: Thursday August 16, 2007 2:13AM; Updated: Thursday August 16, 2007 2:27AM
CARSON, Calif. -- This time it was all about the soccer. Pure authentic fútbol. There were no silly Beckham Cams showing the Great Man adjusting his socks. No gossip columnists chattering in the press box. No arriviste "fans" squealing in delight at all the wrong moments.
And on a glorious night for American soccer, no more questions about the arrival of David Beckham.
At 7:32 Pacific Time on a rutted grass field in a half-full stadium, the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder delivered a moment of classic Becks, bending a 26-yard free kick over a flailing D.C. United wall into the upper-left-hand corner of the goal.
It was a golazo in every sense, as the announcers on Spanish-language Telefutura no doubt reminded their viewers a few dozen times. (Get thee to a YouTube highlight soon, my friends.) And in an instant, as Beckham's Galaxy teammates swarmed him at midfield, the team's collective angst of the last four weeks escaped into one seismic release.
Amazing but true: Beckham said it was the first free kick of any kind he had taken in the last eight weeks. Who needs practice when you've got the muscle memory of the world's greatest free-kick taker?
"As soon as the free kick was given, I don't want to sound too confident, but I felt that I was going to score as soon as I had the ball in my hands," Beckham said afterward. "It felt good. Sometimes you feel like that, sometimes you don't get any feeling. But tonight, I had the feeling that I was going to score."
Years from now, more than 50,000 Angelenos will say they were here at the Home Depot Center on the night Beckham rescued the sinking Galaxy, scoring once and feeding Landon Donovan for goal No. 2 in L.A.'s 2-0 Superliga semifinal triumph.
But in reality, only an announced 17,223 were on hand to witness a little piece of history as Beckham, making his first start and taking over the captain's armband, carried the Galaxy on his ample shoulders to a cup final (to be held here on Aug. 29 against Mexican champion Pachuca).
Make no mistake, folks, this is Beckham's team from this day forward, but after a month of false starts on his gimpy left ankle -- and, let's not forget, only one training session -- he had to earn it on the field. What we learned was instructive: even at 80 percent, even without training for eight weeks, Beckham may well be the best player in MLS.
Odd thing, American soccer. Fans fill stadiums when Beckham doesn't play and don't when he does. But this was the perfect crowd -- a real soccer crowd -- to ram home the point that Beckham has been trying to make since he signed with the Galaxy in January: It's about the soccer, stupid.
"I've scored a lot of important goals in my career," Beckham said, "and this ranks among them."
On the drama scale, he may find this one hard to top.