Let’s talk (again!) about David Beckham and Major League Soccer’s apparent double standard

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Major League Soccer’s next chance to duck and cover, to lamely hide from its responsibility and permit David Beckham carte blanche in breaking the rules at his pleasure is upon us.

So what if the man is frustrated over not being selected for Great Britain’s Olympic team? Life is full of disappointment, and if things never get any worse than this for Beckham, a man more fabulously blessed than almost every human being who has ever walked the Earth, then he should faithfully count his blessings each and every day.

And if the temperature went up on an MLS contest, one that wasn’t perhaps properly managed, well, we’ve got a word for that: we call it a “Saturday.”

MLS and U.S. Soccer finally, after years of stubbornly pretending there wasn’t a problem on overall match management and temperament, is trying to fix things. Still, it’s going to take time and further action. In the meantime, these hot-headed, action-packed and difficult-to-referee contests do happen, even in the best-officiated of leagues.

Teams and players just have to deal with it – and comport themselves better than Beckham did at Stanford Stadium last night, site of the latest code red contest.

It was San Jose’s enthralling 4-3 win over the Galaxy, a match that even most members of the losing side admitted was a memory maker and a hoot to be a part of.

Things unraveled in the end, and a lot is on Beckham – who lost his cool. It happens. It doesn’t make him a bad person.

But … he needs to be accountable.

He probably won’t be. We’ve seen it before; go back and check this one out, where the league demonstrated a clear double standard at work when it comes to Beckham and referee criticism.

Let me bust the mystery on that one: no action was taken.  Shocking, I know. We’ve seen it before with terrible tackles and other post-game incidents that came and went with impunity for the L.A. Galaxy’s No. 23. There are clearly different guidelines at work on action and consequence for the league’s highest paid man.

Long story short from Saturday, Beckham became frustrated when San Jose began delaying the match in its dying minutes. Beckham kicked not one, but two balls in the direction of referee Hilario Grajeda and a fallen San Jose Earthquakes’ player.

ESPN L.A. has a fairly detailed account of that bit of naughtiness and the ensuing pushing, shoving and post-game histrionics – a bunch of boyish silliness that the former England captain, a veteran and leader, should be diffusing, not initiating.

So, we’ll see.

While we wait on any potential league action, consider that:

  • The league suspended Galaxy teammate Mike Magee earlier this year for throwing a ball in the direction of referee Silviu Petrescu in the Galaxy’s loss at Houston.
  • The league suspended New York’s Rafa Marquez three games during last year’s playoffs for throwing a ball at Landon Donovan, initiating a full (and rather comedic, in retrospect) post-game donnybrook. Marquez missed the teams’ following playoff contest.
  • The league suspended FC Dallas’ Brek Shea for three games earlier this year for kicking a ball at a linesman.

The Marquez and Shea tosses and kicks were more egregious; Beckham’s double kick in the direction of the San Jose player and Grajeda don’t perhaps rise to that level, although his provocative post-game conduct ups the stakes.

Beckham will miss at least one match; the caution issued from Grajeda put him over the limit for yellow card accumulation; The Galaxy can’t be too happy about that one, since the L.A. playmaker will miss a match this week in addition to whatever time off he might request later this month for ceremonial Olympic participation.

Off to slow start, Morris, Seattle know “things can change quickly”

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Both Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders are off to a rough start in defense of their MLS Cup title last Fall, and the USMNT’s star striker admits to recalling last season’s wild turnaround as an inspiration.

“After the game last week we mentioned that we have a lot of the nucleus from last year and we all know that things can change quickly,” Morris said to ProSoccerTalk this week.

Seattle won just seven games before Matchday 22 last season, rebounding with a burst after coach Sigi Schmid was replaced by assistant Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders went 8-2-2 down the stretch en route to an MLS Cup win over Toronto FC.

While he hasn’t scored in five matches and only has two markers in 12 games, he feels success is coming for the 3W-5L-4T Sounders. Morris said the club knows the results aren’t there, but also that they are producing chances.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

“It’s been okay,” Morris said. “Definitely not the start I would’ve wanted. It’s not an excuse but we’ve hit a lot of posts and had other near misses.”

Seattle has a huge opportunity to flip the script on its season when Cascadia Cup rivals Portland visit on Saturday. The free-scoring Timbers are dangerous in attack, but have been opened up 20 times this season. Only two teams have conceded more goals than Portland (which has played the most matches in the league, it must be said).

And it may or may not surprise fans that Morris’ focus has been one of his strengths: the final product.

“I’m working on the final third, whether it’s shooting or finding the open guy,” Morris said. “It’s a big deal for us to finish our chances. Scoring or the final pass in that final third.”

Despite his relatively cold start, it would be surprising if Bruce Arena didn’t tab Morris in his crop for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old also seems relatively certain to be a part of the Gold Cup plans.

“I’m excited and hopefully I get called up,” he said. “These World Cup qualifiers are obviously a very big deal and Bruce has done a really good job of getting us on the same page.”

Morris is also participating in a unique promotional activity with Delta Air Lines for Sounders fans, as he and Cristian Roldan are among Seattle teams picking fans for “positions” in a Fan XI. Once assembled, they’ll travel to L.A. for a Sounders road match and even sign one-day contracts. Morris was happy to get on board with it.

“It’s for our fans, who are amazing,” he said. “Delta’s idea to make a Fan XI gives the fansa chance to have the behind the scenes experience of being part of a team put together by having different skills. We love rewarding our fans.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
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Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
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A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.