Latest Beckham speculation only highlights most-likely scenario

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Before I get to the latest, let me pass out a few grains of salt to everybody, because none of this should be taken that seriously. Yet.

Still, it’s worth a moment to consider a report yesterday from the BBC regarding David Beckham’s future. According to the story, the now former-LA Galaxy star has been approached by franchises in New York and Miami about a possible role with their teams.

Already, you should be skeptical. From the report:

Franchises in Miami and New York have approached the 37-year-old, who asked for the option to own an MLS club when he joined Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

Both clubs are hopeful they will become MLS members before 2016, and both are keen for Beckham to play a major role.

The red flags begin with the first word of this passage. Miami doesn’t have a franchise. New York does, but the New York they’re alluding to (perhaps Queens, perhaps the Cosmos – who knows) also does not have a franchise.

It’s nit-picking, but these details are important. The next paragraph makes it clear the BBC knows these teams aren’t actually MLS members, but the preceding sentence could give a naive reader the impression both groups have been promised franchises. As you know, they haven’t. “New York 2” (Queens) seems to be in the lead to be franchise number 20, but there are still a number of details to be worked out. Even if they get resolved, Beckham can’t buy into that team.

At any point, a group of people can approach a Beckham advisor and ask about his interest in joining their group. Undoubtedly, on soccer and non-soccer issues, this happens all the time, and it also provides limited fodder to make Miami and New York connections, even if the approach never trickles up to the man who’ll make the decision. It’s thin reporting that overlooks a bit of common sense, but unfortunately, it’s become standard operating procedure. Though it’s unclear the BBC is making this mistake, their story still doesn’t add up.

These things make all the Beckham speculation – particularly, the Beckham speculation from far and away lands – difficult to take seriously. Not only is the line between rumor and reportable information much thinner abroad, but the knowledge base on MLS and Beckham no longer matches their desire to report the story. That lack of background had many overlook Beckham’s familial loyalties last year. This year, it has reports overlooking the most-likely scenario.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Beckham’s elected to end his MLS career at the same time Philip Anschutz is putting his empire up for sale. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that he did, this weekend, allude to potential part-ownership in a team. And perhaps we should overlook those develops lining up with Beckham opting out of his contract, a deal required him to end his playing days in MLS before he could pursue his ownership options.

And maybe loyalty is the only reason he will not only help recruit Kaká to Los Angeles but also (to paraphrase his words from last Thursday) always help the Galaxy in any way he can.

This is just my reading, but that doesn’t sound like a man gearing up to buy into another team. Purchasing the LA Galaxy may not work out, but right now, it seems like the most likely scenario.

Kane scores early and late, England narrowly top Tunisia

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England’s 2018 World Cup debut began brilliantly, then appeared headed for a disappointingly familiar outcome, but was ultimately saved by Harry Kane who scored both goals in the Three Lions’ 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday.

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England came sprinting out of the starting blocks — so quickly they nearly took flight — and taking an early lead through Harry Kane in the 11th minute (WATCH HERE). John Stones‘ header was spectacularly saved by Mouez Hassen, but Kane was in the right place at the right time and swept home the rebound for his first World Cup goal (on his World Cup debut).

The opening half-hour was all England, with the likes of Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling cutting through the Tunisian midfield and defense with very little resistance and creating a half-dozen golden scoring chances. Unfortunately for Gareth Southgate‘s side, they couldn’t capitalize, and they were made to pay for it.

Kyle Walker caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with a raised arm as an innocuous cross came into the box, prompting referee Wilmar Roldan to blow his whistle and point to the penalty spot immediately. Ferjani Sassi stepped up and converted, just out of reach of Jordan Pickford, who perhaps got a fingertip on the ball (WATCH HERE), to make it 1-1 and negate an otherwise dominant first-half performance by England. It would be Tunisia’s only shot on goal for the game.

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England’s best chance to re-establish a lead came during a six-yard-box scramble just seconds before halftime. Alli’s header hit the crossbar and Stones badly scuffed — nearly whiffed — on the follow-up. Kane was dragged to the ground during the rest of the commotion, to no interest of Roldan.

It took far longer than anyone back home in England would have liked, but Kane grabbed the winner in the 91st minute, heading home from acres of space at the back post. Jordan Henderson got the first crack at heading the corner kick, but it was blocked and bound high into the air. Somehow, some way, Kane was unmarked and snuck his redirect just inside the post.

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Up next for England is a meeting with Panama on Sunday, a day after Tunisia take on Belgium, who thrashed the Panamanians, 3-0, on Monday.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

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How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

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After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

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But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.