2011 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy

Stories to explore as this David Beckham news unfolds

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Those “Stop the Presses!” headlines from Monday night are only a starting point. David Beckham splitting amicably with the Galaxy after six strong seasons (mostly strong on the field, always a fearsome force in wow-wow factor) is hardly the checkered flag at the finish line.

There are tons of tentacles branching out on this one, so let’s look at where the story will travel from here:

  • Beckham’s next stop is foremost in the unfolding tale. Early pundit leanings seemed to focus on the significance of Beckham saying he is leaving the Galaxy, rather than leaving MLS. So came the early momentum behind a “Beckham to the Red Bulls” rumor. Pure guesswork at this point, but there it is.
  • If not here, where? Assuming Beckham does feel like a man with few more kicks left in his shiny boots … Japan? Australia? Russia? Those would all qualify as “new frontiers” for Brand Beckham and his strategic deciders at Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment.

(MORE: Will the man’s next playing spell be “short term?”)

  • What’s up with this seemingly less-than-ideal timing? Beckham and 19 Entertainment just made the 17th MLS Cup all about him, intentionally or not. As PST colleague Richard Farley noted yesterday on Twitter, MLS Cup 2011 was all about Beckham, would he stay or would he go (following that initial five-year monster deal)? He signed a new two-year agreement shortly thereafter, so we seemed to dwell happily in a Beckham Drama-free zone for ’12. Guess not. Alas, another year of much media eulogizing of Becks’ days in MLS. (Hey! No cutting and pasting, boys and girls.)
  • So there’s lots of ground to cover on the timing. For instance, would anyone at league level have preferred Beckham make this announcement on Dec. 2, on the morning after MLS Cup? And would the Galaxy’s competitive pursuits be better off without the distraction of more Beckham brouhaha?

(MORE: Beckham closing his days in L.A.) 

  • Or is it possible that MLS Cup, for the first time on a Saturday night, needed this extra shot of media whiskey to jazz up a final that’s exactly the same as last year’s? (Same teams, same venue.)
  • The other big thread in this huge ball of Beckham yarn: What’s next for the Galaxy? The Frank Lampard talk has languished in media speculation land for some time, aided by the Chelsea man’s appearance last summer in sunny So Cal. Or is Didier Drogba willing to trade his Chinese currency for a few American dollars? Either way, given the AEG ownership group’s penchant for the splashy-dashy, you know a big name is out there.
  • Can the next man into the “Beckham hole” be a needle mover the way he was? Short answer is “no way.” Beckham was peerless in his collective marketing muscle. But that won’t stop us all from exploring the question.
  • Now there’s a chance that L.A. Galaxy 2013 will look remarkably different. Not only will Bruce Arena’s side be one former England captain short, it could well be without Landon Donovan, too. Let’s discuss, shall we?
  • You just know Houston manager Dominic Kinnear is loving all this intense focus on the Galaxy – the better for his team, champions of easy-going humility anyway, to prep for a Dec. 1 ambush.
  • And what of Beckham’s MLS ownership ambition? Beckham seems keen (to use a word from his native vernacular) on exercising that unique option of buying into an MLS team at below-market rate. Grant Wahl from SI.com has reported that discount figure at $25 million, which would be a dandy bargain considering that Montreal just bought in at $40 million. The exception clause is New York’s second franchise, apparently, which MLS commissioner Don Garber has valued at closer to $100 million. Sorry, ‘bout that, Becks.

(MORE: Beckham talk dominates our PST Daily Re-set)

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.

Emre Can back in the Liverpool side ahead of Europa clash vs. Villarreal

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Emre Can of Liverpool battles for the ball with Idrissa Gana of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Emre Can has recovered from an ankle injury and will be in Liverpool’s squad for their Europa League semifinal against Villarreal on Thursday night.

The German international has not played since April 14 when he was forced off in the Reds’ wild 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool prepping for Villarreal ]

Giving his team update on Wednesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said Can is back in the team, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out. The Reds enter the second leg trailing 1-0 on aggregate.

Another positive note out of Melwood was the return of Danny Ings to first-team training. The 23-year-old striker signed with Liverpool last summer, but managed just eight appearances before having his season end to a torn ACL in October. Ings is still far away from his full return, but it was a good sight to see him back on the pitch and making progress in his recovery.

Disappointed Pellegrini rues lack of offense in Man City’s loss to Real

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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Manchester City put in an uninspired performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday, losing the match 1-0 and falling out of the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Real Madrid 1-0 Man City ]

The match was decided by just one goal, but the scoreline was flattering to City as they failed to create any kind of real chances at the Bernabeu. Over the two legs, City managed just two shots on target.

While City were wildly disappointing in the second leg, manager Manuel Pellegrini did not think the match was that one-sided, saying both teams struggled on the attack.

I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game with two teams who did not create many chances. The two teams were working with no-one making a difference.

It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence, we had problems creating, same as Real Madrid. They did not create many chances.

Real Madrid was not in top form, but they still could have scored three or four goals on Wednesday. Joe Hart had to come up with some big saves to keep things close, as the England goalkeeper was by far City’s most valuable player throughout the tie.

[ MORE: Liverpool preparing for Europa League match vs. Villarreal ]

The absence of David Silva through injury certainly hurt City’s attack, but there was very little service moving forward from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. The poor play in the midfield left Sergio Aguero stranded alone up top, nearly invisible in the second leg.

Without service, Aguero was forced to track back to try and find the ball himself, leaving City no options to hit on the counter. For a tie between two of the most expensive teams in the world, neither side was truly impressive, but City surely disappointing.