Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Beckham Experiment

I read the Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl last weekend. It's a great book, especially if you are a fan of any other team in MLS besides The Galaxy.

The years covered in the book, 2007 and 2008, were the last two years I was able to be a fan of the Galaxy (I'm one of the owners of the Seattle Sounders FC now). Reading it made me re-live every wall-punching moment: Hearing about Beckham getting hurt in Spain. Seeing Beckham get hurt at the Home Depot Center. The firing of Frank Yallop. The hiring of Ruud Gullit. AC Milan sticking their beak in our beeswax. Nobody passing to Beckham. Beckham waiving his arms, desperately trying to signal that he was open and nobody else on the team seeming to give a shit if he was open.

(Soccer fans who didn't follow the Galaxy may think I'm exaggerating the part about nobody passing to Beckham, but I don't think I am. During the last home game of the season last year, my friends and I watched in wonder as a Galaxy player, dribbling the ball into the attacking third, looked up, saw David Beckham wide open on the wing, and then turned around and dribbled the other way. Only thoughts of my poor fatherless child kept me from flinging myself over the balcony of my luxury box.)

In short, it was a time at the Los Angeles Galaxy that they and Major League Soccer would like to forget. I will heretofore refer to this episode in MLS history as "The Troubles".

A couple of important thoughts went through my head as I read this book. One was a mantra: "Without Phil Anschutz and AEG there would be no pro soccer in the United States. Without Phil Anschutz and AEG there would be no pro soccer in the United States. Without Phil Anschutz and AEG there would be no pro soccer in the United States." (And please, God, don't forget Lamar Hunt. Without those two we probably wouldn't have enough interest in soccer in America to even get a cable station to carry it.) So AEG had a bad couple of years with the Galaxy. So what? They're allowed. Forgive them for stubbing their toe while attempting the never-before-attempted.

Another thing I couldn't help thinking as Grant Wahl described misstep after misstep was "How can this possibly benefit the Seattle Sounders FC?" You see, during the Troubles, I was a fervent Galaxy fan. But now, a year later I find myself in the enviable position of being part of the ownership group of the expansion Sounders. And, if I do say so myself, we've done everything right so far. :) But there's nothing in this book for anyone in the Western Division except for bad news.

Is there anyone out there that seriously thinks AEG and the Galaxy management are going to let 2007 and 2008 ever repeat themselves again? Ever? You think they're ever going to let themselves get to that point again? If you do, then you're high. Bruce Arena (former US Nat'l Team coach) has the Galaxy actually practicing! (Unheard of in the Gullit days.) Their defense is 1,000% better. Even Landon Donovan and David Beckham have supposedly patched things up, which is the worst thing you could hear if you own another team. I don't want those two getting along and scoring goals now. Donovan is one of the best goal scorers in the league. Beckham is perhaps the best ball-passer in the world. I don't want them to be playing the Sounders and being all happy and focused. I want them slapping at each other during warm ups. This book might be the worst thing to happen to everyone BUT the Galaxy.

I'm just starting to watch the Galaxy play the Red Bulls on FSC as I write this. Donovan and Beckham just hugged. Donovan looks like he's about to play in a World Cup game and his testicles will be removed if he doesn't win. The Galaxy already scored and I haven't even had a chance to finish this paragraph. See what I mean? The world of every team in the West is about to be turned upside down because of this freaking book. Good job, Grant.

The Seattle Sounders FC play the Galaxy in LA on August 15th. I hope everyone remembers that we're not playing the same Galaxy team from last year whose every game-plan from Ruud Gullit was "I'm going out for coffee, anybody want anything?" This is the Galaxy who now are re-energized and have something to prove. They have a former MLS Coach of the Year who has won the MLS Cup twice. They already tied us on our home field 1-1 without Beckham. Now they have Beckham back and he and Donovan hugged.

Damn it.


  1. I remember sitting there that awful day in 2007 when Beckham was trotted out for the cameras and watching every minute on ESPNEWS. Even with a very limited amount of soccer knowledge at the time, I knew that this move would be nothing but trouble.

    There was this huge crowd, music playing, people saying great things about all just seemed so artifical, almost like pro wrestling.

  2. I always thought Gullit was a lazy player, so why people even considered he would be a good manager is anybody's guess - I lay the blame solely at Chelsea's feet for making him believe he could do it.

    I've always been a Beckham fan; sure, he is getting a lot of stick from the Galaxy fans but, at the end of the day, he wants to keep playing football so he can get back onto the England squad. This is a guy who has played or trained pretty much constantly all his life ... if he wants to use his time off to continue, who are we to criticise him?

  3. Drew, here's an article from today's New York Daily News that makes some good points...see if you think he's "worn out his welcome"...

  4. Not a big soccer fan, but I had heard that his own teammates weren't passing to Beckham, and that seemed outrageously petty to me. He's one of the greatest players in the world. Pass him the effin' ball!

  5. Well all I know is... it's the FANS in Seattle that have made Seattle a Soccer Mad Town! Yes we have some very good team members, a great coach. But when you are in that sea of neon green... WOW! Soccer is here to stay in Seattle. Very happy our new team did not get caught up in any "over the top, hype" as the Galaxy did.

    I really want the Sounders to win on Aug 15th, but I know these guys are putting their hearts into it every single game.

  6. I got interested in soccer because my new brother-in-law was a club player for an obscure team in Salzburg (now the Red Bulls. Austria, not NY) and it seemed like learning this absurd game (to an American raised on the NFL) was the familial thing to do.

    Almost 20 years later, I have a slightly better understanding (and a huge respect) for the game.

    For me, Beckham coming to America gave our professional teams some new level of legitimacy. And I don't think it could have happened if AEG had pinned their choice on any other international player (He has the right combination of celebrity and legend that Americans love).

    With the boost that the Galaxy's experiment provided, major league teams like my hometown Sounders, have a chance to become a long-term fixture in their respective cities (and within our culture).

  7. People were heckling him recently for not playing throughout half of the season. Your thoughts?

  8. Hat tip to the blog Unprofessional Foul for pointing me, that's a take that I wasn't ready for. :)

    As a Columbus fan (and Guillermo Barros Schelotto is a much bigger superstar than David Beckham will EVER be), I completely respect the desire to have the Los Angeles Galaxy be as dysfunctional as possible for as long as possible. The more psycho the Galaxy are, the less we have to worry about that "SuperClub" that everybody seems to want. Besides, Dan Loney at BigSoccer is funnier when the Galaxy suck.

    The only real beef I have is the idea that AEG essentially ceding all of the control on the football side of the operation to Beckham and his cronies was nothing more than "stubbing their toe." You've got an ownership stake in this thing, so I don't have to tell you how important it is to have your fans invested. The major piece of journalism Wahl did with that book was tracing out the extent to which Beckham's handlers dismantled the coaching and management of the team, left Alexi Lalas hanging out to dry, and conducted the appointment of Ruud Gullit, who at the end of the day had zero chance to being a successful MLS head coach.

    The people running the show last season didn't know what they were doing, and all you had to do was watch the Galaxy supporters on Sunday night to know that faith has been lost, big-time. I don't think that trust is won back overnight, even if the Galaxy win MLS Cup. The animosity - not only towards Beckham, but towards AEG for taking their hands off the wheel - is very deep, much deeper than anybody in the press is giving credence to.

    Nice post, Drew. May Seattle win every game until they play the Crew.

  9. As a Scot, and a Gooner (Arsenal fan)it was always my duty to hate Beckham,but when England played France in a friendly that celebrated Zizou's career (England got beaten by the way), only one England player clapped, along with the French team, as Zidane left the field; Beckham. That illustrated, I think, that he's a fan of the game, and it certainly changed my opinion of him.

    That also showed when he got his head down and won back the support of the English fans who foolishly believed he cost them World Cup progress (their record away from home since 1966 is appalling). In my opinion, he'll get his head down again and win back the fans again, but will he be allowed to?

  10. Yo, Drew! I'm a huge sports fan, but I never really cared about soccer until I found out about your part ownership of the Seattle Sounders. How about that game against Chicago last Saturday? Ended in a 0-0 tie! NUTS! When is MLS going to do away with ties like the NHL did? If I ran the league I'd do like the World Cup and determine the winner with one extra period and penalty kicks if necessary. Sounders had an ESPN game twice in one week. How cool was that? GO SOUNDERS! And good call on 3 Strikes! Bring the expensive cars back!

  11. You left out the important fact that he is hot.

    The end.


  12. I'm not a soccer fan, but I would buy the book just to stare at his gorgeous face all day. He is this 30 yr old, Prozac driven, mother of 7's dream (along with every other woman in America!)
    MMMMMMM...Beckham *fantasizing*
    Gotta run!

  13. Wow I didnt know you were an owner of the Sounders, very cool. I knew you were a fan.
    Im reading the book also, Im not a Galaxy Fan..nor a Seattle fan...I used to be a mild Metrostars fan but got POed when they became a softdrink. So I pretty much stick to my Brazilian Club which is my true "religion", SC Internacional, 2006 Club World Champs and producer of great Brazilian Talents like Dunga, Alexandre Pato, Falcão, Nilmar, Taffarel just to name a few. As a matter of fact I have a pretty popular Brazilian Blog about Brazilian Inter at (about to reach the 3 million hit mark).
    Nonetheless I am a hardcore US National team fan, Im the 1 fan that actually went to Newark airport to sendoff the US team to the 2006 World Cup...I made a video about that day here

    Anyway goodluck in Seattle. I love what I see so far. Great atmosphere in the stadium..the team colors were a good chioce...IN GENERAL IT LOOKS LIKE SOCCER, the way it should be...and not like early MLS Days.

  14. *regards Drew's poor, neglected blog*

    There oughta be a law or something...



  16. Drew,

    I know this isn't the correct place to suggest this, but you should get your Twitter account "Verified" ( so that your Livestrong efforts will have a larger impact (and people can be sure that the account @Drewfromtv actually belongs to the real Drew Carey). I'm pretty sure that @Crystal can help you with the process.

    - @mozunk

  17. Glad to see that we got that much needed win Drew! And Beckham even got sent off... I think we owe Ricardo Salazar a bottle of the finest whiskey.

  18. Interesting point of view.

    There are a lot of player with higher passing skills than Beckham, but the man knows the game. No doubts about it.

    As a Brazilian, I'm very glad to see one of my favorite comediants talking about my favorite game. It's absolutely wonderful.

  19. I am also glad to see you writing about the game here. I have a blog about Barça right here:

  20. I really enjoyed your behind the scenes for the last world cup (Germany 2006). Are you doing anything for the World Cup 2010 this year? Photography? Press? Avid fan?


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