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Galaxy Show Signs for the Future in Pan Pacific PK Loss: Beckham Impact Minimal


The Los Angeles Galaxy Football club has become the beating doll of the English and Italian media over the past month. A media who knows very little of football in the United States and even less of football in Asia, unless its throngs of Chinese watching Manchester United via Rupert Murdoch’s satellite systems.

Last night at the Home Depot Center the Galaxy faced Korean Champion Suwon Samsung in the championship match of the Pan Pacific Championships. Perhaps Suwon is deemed an unworthy champion by British standards because after all the K-league features a playoff system.

The Galaxy got on with life without the childish and immature David Beckham just fine this week, defeating J-League side  Oita Trinita before taking Suwon to PKs.

Tony Sanneh, the former US National Team star who had been plucked out of virtual retirement by Bruce Arena, his former club and national team manager was efficient for the Galaxy, as was Jovan Kirovski a former National team pool member under Arena. Kirovski who came through the Manchester United youth academy with David Beckham before featuring on Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League titlist squad was acquired by the Galaxy this off season. Kirovski probably was more effective in his one year stint at Crystal Palace than he’s been in MLS, which is odd considering many of our readers are convinced the second division in a nation which did not qualify for the most recent major tournament in Europe is far superior to MLS.

Mike Magee and Edson Buddle were inserted in the second half with the Galaxy trailing 1-0. Both helped extend the Los Angeles attack, and Magee drew a PK and took the shot successfully to draw game level at 1-1. This occurred soon after LA’s Sean Franklin was sent off on a challenge that resulted in a penalty shout for Suwon but who had to settle for free kick just outside the area.

The Galaxy however, lost the title game in a Penalty Kick shootout. Josh Saunders, the on loan goalkeeper from Miami FC of USL-1 (The American second flight) almost made a critical PK save but the ball squirted out from under him and into the net. The Galaxy goalkeeping job is expected to won by Donovan Ricketts, the Jamaican National Team starter while Saunders who features for the Puerto Rican National side, will return to Miami.

The Galaxy have struggled the last three seasons and have been an embarrassment the last two. The only sustained run of excellence the side has experienced in the last two seasons ironically happened when David Beckham was injured towards the end of the 2007 campaign.

Bruce Arena is the greatest manager ever produced in the history of American Football. His perceived failure in New Jersey with the Red Bulls not withstanding Arena knows the American game and the American player. He knows how to mold a good side from the available pool of talent in the states and in Central America. He’s done it before and will do it again with the likes of Mike Magee and Demo Kovelenko leading the way.

David Beckham’s absence makes little difference for the Galaxy. He was hardly committed towards the end of last season to sacrificing himself for his club side, preferring to preserve himself for the English National Team and his already seripticiously arranged loan deal to AC Milan. While England’s footballing landscape features the likes of Jamie Carragher, David Bentley and Gabriel Agbonlahor all of whom have spurned their National Team in the last two years, Beckham actually represents the American footballing virtue: country over club.

The United States National Team features a player pool of committed footballers willing to sacrifice their club career for the betterment of the national side and football in their home nation. American players unlike England’s National Team have a great deal of experience flying halfway around the world for qualifiers, friendlies and continental championships. This is exactly what David Beckham was being asked to do for England while a member of the Galaxy. (except the continental championship part given England’s non qualification for Euro 2008)

Bruce Arena understands this and perhaps had Beckham been more forthright with him about his desire to put his England National Team career first, the most successful manager in US history could have helped him manage his time, travel and body. But Beckham instead chose to go behind Arena and the Galaxy’s back and create a media circus which has not served the footballer well.

The Galaxy will be just fine under Arena with or without Beckham. The question is this however: with the Galaxy turning the corner should Beckham return will he continue to whine like petulant child or will he demonstrate some  professionalism for a change?

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  1. JJ

    February 24, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    The north of England rarely identifies with the England team, or the south, of which the England team is supposedly favouring. HQ is in Soho Squrea in London etc. A lot of fans in the north have been known to sing “we hate England” in a mix of passion and irony for what national coaches do to their players. For example, England two weeks ago fielded Villa players who got injured. Villa are pushing for a ground-breaking place in the top four, while the game that damaged Heskey and tired a few more was a friendly against Spain. It’s understandable.

  2. Ian

    February 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Kartik- I thought you loved John O’Brien? Is he coming back anytime soon?

  3. eplnfl

    February 23, 2009 at 7:44 am


    Ok, I’m a Chicago homer! I admit that if you put Chicago on the shirt I’m for them. McBride is a home town guy and so is special to me but lets take keepers out of the picture and the case is really strong for McBride. Reyna was limited by his injuries the last few years and was clearly not as productive as McBride in his last years. I loved Claudio do not get me wrong. Tony Sanneh in his day was strong no doubt about it. Which player turned things around for his team like McBride did when he lead Fulham’s charge to stay up last year.

    Glad to hear your a Chivas fan and I like them very much. Above comments are directed to the Galaxy which are too Hollywood for me. You are right Saturday nights are special for the Fire. Coming to Chicago at all this summer? I suggest a fan trip from this site for the Fire game on June 5 and the US Men on June 6 in the qualifier. A great weekend in the Windy City!

  4. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    February 23, 2009 at 5:40 am

    Rafa: Reyna was hands down the best.

    O’Brien played well until his injuries. He would have been the best had he not been injured.

    JMM got hurt alot. I think he scored a goal in something like 1 out of every 3 matches he played for Everton which is an amazing goal scoring rate for an American but he was always injured so the truth is over three and a half years he probably played the equivalent of one Premiership season.

    Harkes I think was serviceable and useful and that’s why he was always in demand in England. Still I wouldn’t compare him to the other names.

    Wynalda was good in Germany before coming to MLS in the first season, and Tony Sanneh some may forget had his impact in the Bundesliga for a few years.

    An interesting topic and surely a future blog post!

  5. Rafa in LA

    February 23, 2009 at 5:12 am


    Brian McBride was far from the best American player in Europe. Brad Freidel, Kasey Keller and Tim Howard put him to shame. If you are looking just at field players I have a longer list: Claudio Reyna, John O’Brien before his injuries, DaMarcus Beasley, John Harkes who started an FA Cup final, and Joe Max Moore who scored goals both in Germany and England, and in MLS also.

    LA is the discussion because LA matters. I’m a Chivas fan but the Galaxy led the league in attendance BEFORE Beckham.

    Chicago struggled with crowd building and moved 3 times before signing Blanco and making Toyota Park a hip place to be on a Saturday night.

    I know you are just supporting your team, but some respect please.

  6. Kartik

    February 23, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Curtis Spliteri

    NOTHING gets censored on this site unless it used foul language. (Heck I have even allowed some racist language to remain through the years) You posted on the wrong thread, a thread about a week old.. The comment is still there.

    BTW, I do not believe calling a sport by its proper name is eurosnoberry, I learned to use the term football or futbol from Latinos which are aplenty in south Florida, in the NASL days, almost 30 years back. The sport has never been called soccer for them, and never been called soccer in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

    Don’t think it’s a concession to the English, because as you probably can tell I am not much for conceding anything to them.

  7. Modibo

    February 22, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    A good post. Christ, if Bruce can just shore up the backline a bit AND he gets Donovan back, LA is going to be consistently dangerous. They were almost always entertaining last year, just because you knew every three games or so would be a goal bonanza.

    BTW: Surreptitiously, Kartik. I love the podcast and the blog but there are times when the posts could use some proofreading/spellchecking. Thanks!

  8. Curtis Spiteri

    February 22, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    +1 Lars.

    Well said.

  9. Lars

    February 22, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Travis, the North American teams could give a damn what Europe says about them, because quite frankly Europe only pays attention to them when they do something infuriating to Europe.

    Good on the MLS for standing their ground. It was the best move for Canadian and American soccer/futbol.

  10. Curtis Spiteri

    February 22, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I see you removed my comment from earlier today where I pointed out that your constant use of “football”, “footballers” and “footballing” makes you look like a closet Eurosnob. That’s okay, deleting posts that criticize you won’t change that.

    Besides your selective censorship, I actually liked the piece; however, the censorship thing doesn’t make you look good . . . sorta like a Eurosnob (LOL! Sorry I couldn’t help myself!).


  11. C Dykstra

    February 22, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Beckham’s earned the right to bully around English clubs based on his contribution to the game in England. An American club has no reason to care how many years of service he’s put in for the English national team.

    Beckham can move where he wants. He just hasn’t to put up $10 million or so to buy out his contract. I’m sure he has that much sitting around somewhere.

  12. eplnfl

    February 22, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    The Pan Pacific Championship is news and the Beckham saga is headline stuff and Bruce Arena is America’s best soccer coach.( Bob Bradley must be considered his equal soon) However, why are we fixated on LA. It is now admitted that the best player to come into MLS in recent years has` been Blanco. Yet, what attention is their on the Chicago Fire. We will have Brian McBride in a Fire uniform all season along with Blanco. How much talk in the media or on this website is their about Chicago’s dynamic duo ready for a full season. Has not McBride been the most successful American player in a European league? Little talk that Fulham wanted him back this last transfer window and he stayed with the Fire to get ready for the MLS season.

    American sporting leagues are most successful when the team in Chicago is a winner. Frankly, if LA flops or not I care less, ask the NFL if it makes a big difference. More important is what happens in the heartland from Columbus through Chicago, to KC, and Texas, and out to the teams in the mountain states, that is where MLS is made or not..

  13. Soccer Guru

    February 22, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Beckham has always been selfish. Anybody who recalls his run ins with Sir Alex and his behavior at Milan and his sulking about McLaren knows that.

    The Galaxy have stood their ground and all soccer fans in the US are grateful and proud!

  14. Backing Becks

    February 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm


    You can keep throwing out the names of Bentley, Carragher et al.

    You can keep talking about how your stinking yanks fly around the globe to play for your third rate national side.

    It all is immaterial.

    Carragher, Bentley, the American footballers…………….none of them are Beckham.

    Beckham is the most famous footballer on the planet. and the rules that you apply to any other footballer does not apply. He’s earned the right to be treated differently. He’s earned the right to keep playing for his country and move to whatever club he wants.

    He’s not Jamie Carragher or Landon Donovan. He’s David Beckham and start treating him as such.

  15. PZ

    February 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Travis, England are only a threat to win if the actually manage to qualify.

    Recent events prove what muppets the British media are.

  16. Cavan

    February 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Travis, what difference does it make if the English media respects the U.S. National Soccer team? Who are they? Why should we care what a foreign sporting press thinks of the game in our country?

    I suspect that our national team could win the World Cup and the English press would make fun of them. We enjoy the game on our terms. The sporting press in other countries is just trying to sell ads by fanning faux-nationalist sentiments. Nothing more.

  17. Kartik

    February 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    What has the American national team ever done to warrant respect from the English media or English clubs? For any American lucky enough to be able to sustain a Premiership career, the club should be their first consideration, not the lousy American National “Soccer” Team.

    So basically any American based in England who plays for their national team is selfish while Beckham not honoring his contract is a bastion of sportsmanship?

    It’s different with MLS and England. The English National Team is a threat to win any tournament they enter and to be the best national team on earth. MLS on the other hand is filled with meaningless matches and has a playoff system to boot, and that de-legitimizes the entire league.

    Are you simply trying to have a laugh? England hasn’t made the final of a tournament since 1966! You may look down on the confederation the US plays in, and perhaps that’s fair since UEFA is so strong but the US has won our continental championship four times in the past 18 years. That’s basically once every other tournament.

    How can Blanco even be compared to Beckham?

    I agree. It’s difficult to compare an overgrown child like Beckham to a football professional like Blanco whose retirement from international football has decimated his national team. Take Beckham out of the England setup and you improve with Ashley Young, David Bentley or Aaron Lennon.

  18. Travis

    February 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    MLS is a joke!

    Another made up tournament!

    Americans do not deserve football or soccer as you refer to it.

    What has the American national team ever done to warrant respect from the English media or English clubs? For any American lucky enough to be able to sustain a Premiership career, the club should be their first consideration, not the lousy American National “Soccer” Team.

    It’s different with MLS and England. The English National Team is a threat to win any tournament they enter and to be the best national team on earth. MLS on the other hand is filled with meaningless matches and has a playoff system to boot, and that de-legitimizes the entire league.

    MLS should be thankful they had a footballer of Beckham’s stature even for two years. All these other names that have been thrown out there by American fans: Blanco, Angel, Skyletto, Donovan, etc are all second or third tied players in world football. What has Mexico ever won compared to England? How can Blanco even be compared to Beckham? Yet the MLS fan tries to link the two.

  19. C Dykstra

    February 22, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Bruce still has work to do

    Gordon – wouldn’t start for most teams, ok target but limited player
    Kirovski – has some good qualities but was a fringe starter for Colorado and San Jose
    Allen – not sure he belongs in MLS
    Miglioranzi – not good enough to start for the Crew
    Kovalenko – good player but limited as he’s aging. Barely a starter for Real Salt Lake (platooned with Williams)
    Klein – could start for many teams but has lost a step
    Lewis – would start for any team
    Sanneh – last comeback wasn’t impressive. Can he stay healthy?
    Gonzalez – untested rookie
    Franklin – promising second year player but as seen last night has some maturing to do
    Saunders – not yet proven in MLS

    Buddle – when in form would start for many MLS teams
    Magee – good player but style doesn’t fit MLS
    Dunivant – injured for at least a month, ok starter but has been sidelined/benched for a while
    Ricketts- could be ok but has played little lately, remember Shaka Hislop?

    Sure Beckham or Donovan would be a big help and regardless of their return the Galaxy will either have them or cap space to make a big signing. I do think Arena has improved this team but the starting lineup from yesterday featured all of 3 players that would start for a good MLS team (Lewis, Klein, and Franklin). They now are much improved with a bunch of guys at fringe starter level in MLS. Beckham’s not the answer but the team still has a ways to go to climb out of the big hole left by Alexi Lalas.

  20. Steven

    February 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Galaxy do not deserve Beckham! They paid him ridiculous money and spent a lot of time, money and effort giving him the endless free publicity he craves! They showed great kindness and good faith by letting him out on loan to Milan and giving him freedom from the leash to allow him to play for England also! He only then ended up kicking the club and it’s supporters in the teeth! Why want a greedy, selfish, self-serving disgrace?

  21. LOL

    February 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    IT’s funny when I read that English and Italian, or more accurately, the European know very little about Asia’s football. LOL..if anything, European football and Asia’s football has a long history before MLS even existed. And if anything, there are a LOT of Asians, perhaps nearly half of the footballers’ population, are playing football in Europe. How do you think these players were recruited in the first place if not for the clubs’ representatives following Asians football closely? And their countries remain ones of the main threats CONSTANTLY in the world cups against the of course European know a lot about football in Asia.

    As for Galaxy, it’s good for them to have some improvement..though they still need to find a decent GK to do the job properly and MLS still need to find better referees for the better of the league. It’s still a long way to go for the Gs to reach the play-offs this season. And for Becks being childish..that’s why he is still very good to play like he was nearly 10 years ago, even though he’ll be 34 this year. You need the youth in you to keep playing at the top level even though you’re aging.

  22. Ian

    February 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I find it amazing how hypocritical the English are about national team duty. They caused a fuss about Beckham when he came to the Galaxy saying his release for all FIFA dates was mandatory when it is well known Alex Ferguson threatened Tim Howard in 2005 when he wanted to leave midweek for a WORLD CUP QUALIFER where he’d be a backup, telling him he’d lose any chance of regaining his starting spot at Old Trafford if he went.

    The controversy over Beckham was a friendly against Germany which Alexi Lalas was always going to let him leave for.

    You bring up Carragher but forgot Scholes. They put club over country unless you play club football outside England then it is country over club.

    England is ruining modern football with the excessive spending of Premier League clubs and these sorts of obvious double standards.

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