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Bashing Beckham

Posted by Mark Stokes  July 20, 2009 10:03 AM

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I still feel it. Do you feel it?

The waters washing over US soccer these days are still warm and inviting as we continue to bathe in the afterglow of that wonderful performance by Bob Bradley’s team in South Africa.

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The Gold Cup exploits of the national team have served to prolong the warm and fuzzy feeling, and even the kiss-and-make-up moment of David Beckham and Landon Donovan prior to the Galaxy’s meeting with the Red Bulls in New York, (the garden variety pigskin fan is still quaking in his boots at that thought, and who can blame him) has its place in the ongoing reality TV.

Fans booed the Englishman for long periods at Giants Stadium, but it’s all good, all relevant, and all part of a tinder base which is slowly building towards an inferno of fan support and a new dawn for American soccer.

I firmly believe it and so, apparently, does President Obama, as well as the 66,000 fans who showed up at the home of the Jets and Giants on Thursday evening.

It’s summertime and the living is easy, and the viewing even more appealing. Inter and AC are in the neighborhood -- there’s genuine interest in seeing how Beckham will ‘make out’ against his erstwhile employers when AC Milan meet the Galaxy, while Carlo Ancelotti will give us a glimpse of his Chelsea team few others will get across the globe.

(For those of you who continue to compare apples to oranges, just look at the way Chelsea waltzed through the Seattle team at Qwest Field Saturday. Recall also the way the Blues moved the ball with purposeful ease from box to box and, when spread thin by the excelling running of Nyassi, defended supremely to keep the Sounders at bay. It must be noted however that the Emeralds gave a better account of themselves than most championship teams would be capable of).

Just as Sundays in September will find sports fan flicking between NFL games, this past weekend was also a double fisted one -- TV schedule in one hand, clicker in the other.

USA vs. Panama, Honduras vs. Canada, Costa Rica vs. Guadeloupe, and Mexico pitting their frayed nerves against a very capable Haiti team. It represented quite entertaining viewing.

So bask in this sunless summer -- take in the heat on the field and keep focused on South Africa next summer, with an eye perhaps on a juicy Gold Cup meeting with Honduras and on the remaining World Cup qualifiers for Bob Bradley’s team this fall.
Last week’s blog questioned Landon Donovan’s wisdom in seeking to wash the team’s dirty linen in public, and one can see the results now. Landon just couldn’t let folks form their own opinions, which were mounting decidedly against Beckham. Now the Englishman has become the victim as the public sees the US international as perhaps getting slightly too big for his britches.

Booing the ambassador for the world’s game, as was predicted here last week, will have dire repercussions for Americans in the company of English fans (it’s already hit the headlines in the UK!).

When you’re up against a figure who is about five-times more popular than Tom Brady, Landon Donovan is of little importance in the big scheme of things and may be but a distant memory when the dust has settled on next year’s World Cup.

Said Beckham: “In 17 years, I have played with the biggest teams in the world and the biggest players and not once have I been criticized for my professionalism.

Said Landon: "I don't apologize for what I said. I should have told him to his face.”

As Grant Wahl, author of the controversial book "The Beckham Experiment," said in a television interview on Thursday evening: "American soccer is in need of a good controversy.”

Bash Beckham, dis Donovan, or berate Bradley. It’s all good. It’s another sign that soccer is taking off in America.

Next week’s blog: Kyle Beckerman, America’s brightest star.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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