David Beckham’s five biggest moments in U.S. Soccer


David Beckham helped make America at large turn its head and take notice of soccer. Going back, here are the major moments in the Beckham legacy and imprint on the United States soccer scene:

The big, showy announcement in Los Angeles: Everyone knew the Beckham tsunami was en route to Major League Soccer by early 2007. So his arrival July 12 introduction was certainly no surprise.

But the show! It’s all about the show, after all, when it comes to Brand Beckham and all that it implies.

Everyone important in domestic soccer was at Home Depot Center during a nationally televised introductory news conference – words not often strung together when it comes to soccer in the States, don’t you know. It was full of pomp and rockets and more than a few shrieking girls.

Beckham, his wife Victoria, and their three sons began their celebrated, much-photographed life in the United States. Oh, the Galaxy had already sold 250,000 replica jerseys by that sunny afternoon of high praise and golden promises.

Beckham’s MLS debut, July 22, 2007: Officially speaking, MLS began cashing the Brand Beckham checks in late July of 2007, as the former England captain and his gimpy left ankle made its long-awaited Galaxy debut in the 1-0 loss to Chelsea (in a friendly). One of the most celebrated nights of soccer ever in the United States had a big touch of the surreal. What I wrote at the time: “What a mad scene at the Home Depot Center, all at once an exercise in patience (due to that uncooperative left ankle) and a three-ring circus of traps, passes and paparazzi. Major League Soccer officially began cashing in on the nationally televised Beckham ballyhoo Saturday. Even if his 12 minutes on the field were mostly uneventful, the night was certainly unforgettable.”

Aug. 18, 2007, New York Red Bulls-LA Galaxy: There was so much pre-game build-up to this one, the notoriously uncooperative crew from Giants Stadium even removed those awful white football lines. How about that!

The Beckham spectacle was in full effect for his first official trip into New York. A crowd of 66,237 were there at Giants Stadium in what became an assault to anyone who enjoys their soccer with just a hint of defense. But it was entertaining and high-scoring, and it was nationally televised. Final score: Galaxy 5, Red Bulls 4.

The highlights are here.

The Beckham book: How rare it is that a soccer book gets the high-profile “excerpt” treatment. Maybe in England or Argentina or wherever – but not the United States! And yet there it was, the Beckham experiment in the large-distribution channels.

Grant Wahl’s book, published in 2009, “The Beckham Experiment,” pulled back the curtain on the combustible relationship between Beckham and Landon Donovan, the first and second-most recognizable names in American soccer at the time.

I wrote about the book back then: “Donovan and other Galaxy players question Beckham’s commitment. Additionally, the book details clumsy efforts to placate the Beckham camp’s desire that he immediately be named captain upon his ballyhooed 2007 arrival. And the loopy circumstances are revealed surrounding the organization’s introduction of Ruud Gullit as manager.”

(MORE: PHOTOS –The life and times of David Beckham)

Beckham’s final match, MLS Cup 2012: Like it or not – and a bunch of us found the timing rather tacky and a bit self-serving – the presiding narrative of MLS Cup 2012 was all about Beckham. He announced prior to Major League Soccer’s finale that the match would mark his final kick of ball here. He was moving on.

Yes, it did suck attention away from the teams and other “peripheral” figures, a.k.a. the other 21 starters, the two coaches and any key backups. But it make the occasion bigger, and isn’t that, at its core, what Beckham was always all about for MLS?

(MORE: Bigger impact on game’s growth here, Beckham or Pele?)

(MORE: Beckham’s most memorable moments on the world stage)

USMNT name squad for friendly v Paraguay

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The U.S. national team have announced their 22-man roster for the friendly against Paraguay in Cary, North Carolina on March 27.

This could be the moment we look back at the old guard passing the baton.

Interim head coach Dave Sarachan has named a young team as Levante’s Shaq Moore and former Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer-Brown (now at Manchester City) received their first call ups.

Per the release, the average of the squad is 23 years, 84 days with 17 players aged 24 or under. Is this the dawn of a new era?

With no sign of a new head coach being appointed until probably after the 2018 World Cup, plus no General Manager (a newly created role by new USSF president Carlos Cordeiro) yet appointed for the USMNT, it’s tough to know how much to read into this team selection as the U.S. rebuild continues to be put on hold after the failure to make the 2018 World Cup.

Christian Pulisic has not been called up due to the U.S. letting him focus on Borussia Dortmund for the time being and, let’s be honest, we all know he is the star of this team and will be for decades to come. Giving him a rest this time could be hugely beneficial in the future.

Antonee Robinson, Marky Delgado, Timothy Weah and Andrija Novakovich are also looking for their first cap after impressing.

Weah has been rewarded after coming off the bench for PSG’s first team in recent weeks as he also starred for the USA at the U-17 World Cup, while Robinson has broken through at Bolton and Novakovich is scoring goals for fun in Holland.

Sarachan has taken charge of two USMNT games as interim boss after being an assistant coach in Bruce Arena’s coaching staff. The U.S. have drawn both of those games against Portugal in November and Bosnia in January.

Below is the squad in full.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 1/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town/ENG; 1/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 14/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse/NED; 4/1), Shaq Moore (Levante/ESP; 0/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk/BEL; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Bolton Wanderers/ENG; 0/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 15/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 49/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 1/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 24/1), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 2/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 1/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 3/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 0/0)

FORWARDS (3): Andrija Novakovich (Telstar/NED; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana/MEX; 4/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 36/10)

Podolski goal powers Vissel Kobe to 1st win in J-League

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KOBE, Japan (AP) German striker Lukas Podolski scored late in the second half on Sunday as Vissel Kobe beat Cerezo Osaka 2-0 for its first win of the J-League season.

Naoyuki Fujita gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute and Podolski secured the win on a left-foot shot with eight minutes remaining in regulation.

It was the first goal of the season for Podolski, who last year moved from Turkish club Galatasaray after signing a deal with Kobe estimated to be worth $5.3 million.

Elsewhere, Thai midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin scored late in stoppage time to lift Consadole Sapporo to a 2-1 win over V-Varen Nagasaki.

Takuma Abe scored midway through the second half to give Vegalta Sendai a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with Shimizu S-Pulse, while Diego Oliveira scored his first goal of the season as FC Tokyo beat Shonan Bellmare 1-0.

Mu Kanazaki scored the only goal as Kashima Antlers beat Sagan Tosu 1-0, Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol finished 2-2 and Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Jubilo Iwata ended in a goalless draw.

LIVE, FA Cup: Leicester v. Chelsea

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Leicester City host Chelsea at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET) in an FA Cup quarterfinal clash between two Premier League clubs.

[ LIVE: Leicester v. Chelsea ]

Claude Puel has Leicester in eighth in the Premier League table and the Foxes can smell an upset with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez in fine form.

Chelsea have had a long week with Antonio Conte‘s men going to Barcelona and being taught a lesson by Lionel Messi as they crashed out of the UEFA Champions League but played well apart from Messi’s heroics. Conte’s admission that he doesn’t see the FA Cup as being too important may give Leicester an extra boost.

In team news Leicester start Kelechi Iheanacho up top after his fine display off the bench last week, while Chelsea are pretty much at full strength with Cesc Fabregas dropped, Thibaut Courtois rested and Alvaro Morata starting up top.


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Hughes defiant after debut win as Saints boss

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Mark Hughes got off to the perfect start at Southampton as the new manager led his team to the FA Cup semifinals.

Saints beat third-tier Wigan 2-0 at the DW Stadium on Sunday to reach the last four of the FA Cup for the first time in 15 years. They are in the relegation zone in the Premier League but are two points from safety with a game in hand.

Second half goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cedric did the job for Southampton as Hughes’ side weathered and early Wigan storm. Speaking to the BBC after the game, Hughes, who was sacked by Stoke in January, was in a defiant mood.

“People have questioned this group before I arrived and maybe questioned my appointment as well. It is only a start but a statement of intent,” Hughes said. “We have work to do in the Premier League but we will enjoy this moment. A Wembley semifinal which will be a great experience for our fans.”

Hughes’ side did what Bournemouth, West Ham and Manchester City couldn’t in knocking Wigan out of the FA Cup as Paul Cook’s team fairytale run was ended.

In truth Saints could’ve won by a more comfortable scoreline in the second half as Manolo Gabbiadini had a penalty kick brilliantly saved by Christian Walton, but given Wigan’s dominance in the first half, 2-0 was a fine result. Saints looked more dangerous in a 4-4-2 formation and Hughes knows there is plenty more work to do but confidence will perhaps grow with a trip to Wembley coming up.

When it comes to Hughes’ future at Saints he only has a deal until the end of this season. He has eight games to turn their fortunes around following Mauricio Pellegrino‘s firing earlier this week after just five wins in 30 PL games this season.

It appears that Hughes believes he can not only get the Saints out of trouble but also make some waves in the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley next month.

“It has been a difficult week for the guys,” Hughes said. “I am really pleased with the amount of talent I have to work with with this group.”