They’re no Dodgers. He’s no Manny. However, one can make the comparison. Powerhouse players, notable absences, timely return, teams on the rise.
David Beckham returned to the Home Depot Center Sunday to help his (new) team, the LA Galaxy overcome his (old )team, AC Milan.
Beckham signed with the Galaxy two seasons ago but has been playing with the Italian team for the past few months per contract agreement. Galaxy personnel made similar concessions with Real Madrid in 2007, Beck’s first season with the Galaxy. Last year, Beckham completed his first full MLS season, finishing with 10 assists and five goals in 25 games.
The recent “loan” has expired and Beckham, who has commented on the discrepancy of skill (said he’d rather play in Europe as competition there is greater), returns to a surging Galaxy. Thus far, his second half return to the MLS has been a good one.
The friendly competition ended on a 2-2 draw. Beckham finished with two assists, one on an impressive corner-kick play in the 30th minute. This comes after a 3-1 win over New York in which Beckham contributed a critical goal. Always the competitor, Beckham was especially determined in Sunday’s contest. He was forced to outplay old comrades and a barrage of boos.
Perhaps American play is not at the same level as that of our European counterparts. However, Sunday’s game was a sign of things to come, literally and figuratively. The Galaxy held their own against Milan, currently preparing for their regular season. Signs like “Go Home Fraud” indicate that even if the play is better, American fans are becoming as passionate as those in Europe.
Despite fan impression, the Galaxy could afford the extra energy and leadership Beck brings to the field. LA has won four games in a row and is contending for a playoff spot. They are third in the West at 6-3-9. But their 27 points overall put them at a tie with Columbus in the East for the top Wild Card. (The top two teams in either division and the top four teams behind that earn playoff berths.)
Save running onto the field, fans should push Beck to the limit. Sunday, Beckham exchanged with an incensed fan who eventually sprinted for the field. No one was harmed in the incident and the fan was escorted. However, it appeared Beckham turned it on after that occurrence.
Beckham will only play in six more home games this season. But with the race as tight as it is, a few heckles here and there could prove the difference. My thinking is fans will turn their hate into help and begin cheering for Beckham. They need to get their monies worth. Come on folks, we’re not even halfway through the five-year, $250 million contract.
Those Other Angelinos
Despite being snubbed in All-Star voting, Matt Kemp continues to show his worth. He capped a 3-for-3 Sunday by launching a two-out homer in the eighth inning. Kemp gave his team the 4-3 lead, earning the Dodgers a series split against Houston. The center fielder walked, stole a base and scored all four of his team’s runs.
The Dodgers remain atop the NL West at 58-34, seven-and-a-half games ahead of second place San Francisco.