CARSON, Calif. – When it comes to meaningful media endeavor, Major League Soccer exists in two separate universes. There’s “MLS Adorned with David Beckham” and then there’s otherwise.
Which is, by the way, why questioning the success of the Beckham experiment, the man’s ability to attract a larger audience and amplify interest beyond the niche soccer crowd, is just plain silly. Just look at the number of cameras at the man’s Thursday afternoon press conference at the Home Depot Center (pictured).
By comparison, there may be four or five cameras tonight when the Dynamo arrive at their nearby hotel later tonight.
So the scene was distinctly “MLS Adorned with Beckham” on Thursday. That is, jam packed and fueled by a certain feeling of importance – a feeling that does not always accompany Major League Soccer events, even on its pinnacle MLS Cup week.
Beckham didn’t reveal much new, but there were moments of insight and of quintessential Beckham-ness. Let’s review some of the “highlights” of his press event:
On whether he is feeling any pangs of emotion ahead of his final Galaxy match:
It’s been an enjoyable week…. I am quite an emotional person. I know I will feel more emotion probably the day of the game. Maybe the night before the game. But I am really excited about the game itself. To be in third MLS Cup final, especially one being played in our own stadium, I am excited. And it’s going to be special.”
Some of the questions were quite thought-provoking. And some were more bubble gum variety. Like about whether, over six years, he was gotten used to saying “soccer.”
Even after six years, I’m still personally getting used to saying ‘soccer.’ … To me it will always be football.”
On a question about his impact with MLS, one reporter asked Beckham for an honest self-assessment, even encouraging the Galaxy star of stars not to be shy about it. Said Beckham as he prepared to respond: “I can’t help my shyness.”
Yes, the man who has appeared in photos, on high def TV and on ginormous billboards across the globe wearing everything from a skirt to pretty much nothing at all just said that.
What about growth as a player? Could Major League Soccer really have taught this well-traveled sort, after all those high-level matches at Manchester United and Real Madrid, anything about the game?
I do believe I have matured even more so as a player. As you get older, the mind gets a bit quicker, to be honest. The legs may be a little slower than you were when you were 21. But as I’ve said before, I’ve never been a quick player.”
About the Cosmos and his possible involvement in the ongoing resurrection of that once-mighty brand:
I’ve been hearing the Cosmos thing for the last two or three years. That’s not true. My manager definitively has not had conversations on that side.”
He also pooh-poohed reports out just today that he would soon join AS Monaco. He said he heard that one from a friend on the car ride over to the Home Depot Center:
I’m very flattered by some of the interest I’ve had, some of the serious interest I’ve had. It’s always nice to be recognized by managers, and good managers. …. It means a lot to me. I’ve tried to base my whole career over being professional and working hard. It’s nice to be recognized like this.”
Beckham’s once-turbulent relationship with Landon Donovan has been well chronicled. But the two long ago reached amicable accord by all appearances. Now Beckham says he hopes Donovan doesn’t close off a brilliant career too soon. Beckham says Donovan still has plenty to offer in terms of ability and otherwise.
About Donovan’s repeated warnings that he may soon turn the professional page:
Let’s hope that was just a moment that he had. From what I see on the training field and when he’s on the field, the hunger is still there.”
By the way, Beckham talked about his teammate as being a “young man.” Only an athlete in winter, 37 years old, calls a 30-year-old athlete a “young man.”
Finally, Beckham initially said he wanted to accept one more challenge as a player. That was two weeks ago. Now, with a little more time for things to settle, he said his feelings on keeping that right foot swinging have not changed.
I still feel like a good player, and I’m still not considering retiring.”