July 14, 2007
CARSON – If there were any doubts about David Beckham's true value to the Los Angeles Galaxy and American soccer, they were answered in a matter of seconds after he was formally introduced as a member of the Major League Soccer club yesterday morning, before he so much as opened his mouth or swung his golden right foot.
With blue and yellow confetti erupting from cannons on either side of the stage, with a worldwide television audience watching live, with an estimated 3,000 fans and 500 journalists jammed into one corner of The Home Depot Center stadium, with a news helicopter pounding overhead, Beckham dramatically stood and made his first official act with the Galaxy:
Holding aloft the club's newly designed jersey with “BECKHAM” and No. 23 on the back.
Already, club officials claim, orders have been accepted for 250,000 jerseys (they cost $92.99 at the club's stadium store) since they went on sale Wednesday. And in case you weren't paying attention, Galaxy General Manager Alexi Lalas closed the half-hour ceremony by saying: “I want to remind you that the brand new Galaxy jersey and other Galaxy apparel are now available.”
About the only people who weren't at the lavish ceremony were Beckham's new teammates. In an almost surreal scene, they were on a back field at The Home Depot Center complex, holding a practice while the echoes from the stadium washed over them.
In a series of interviews with international journalists afterward, Beckham insisted he is here less to sell the sport than play it – that “my priority is the football, er, soccer” – although when he will actually step on the field is suddenly an uneasy topic. An exhibition next Saturday against English club Chelsea at the HDC has been billed as his grand debut, but Beckham and Galaxy management conceded that is not guaranteed given the uncertain status of the midfielder's left ankle.
It figures to be the first of several confrontations between marketing and matches, between the almighty dollar and the beautiful game, between the demands of an expectant public and the frailty of a 32-year-old body.
For weeks, ESPN has been promoting its live coverage of the Chelsea match that will have 19 cameras, including a “Beckham cam” trained exclusively on him. It is preceding the game with an hourlong documentary on Beckham's move to the States. And the HDC is nearly sold out with fans who, you presume, didn't pay up to $500 per ticket to see Ty Harden (annual salary: $30,000) play right back.
Beckham injured the ankle with the English national team in early June and it bothered him enough that he exited early from his final few matches with Real Madrid in the Spanish league. He has had the past month off and was spotted during a family vacation in the south of France cycling but, significantly, not running.
Beckham admitted he jogged on the ankle, or tried to, for the first time four days ago.
“It felt slightly unstable and there was a little bit of swelling,” he said.
He reports to Galaxy practice Monday, though he indicated he might not join regular training until midweek. A few days later, he'd be facing a hard-nosed Chelsea side that rates among the top teams in the world.
“The ankle is of concern,” Lalas said. “We don't want to sacrifice the long term by having him play in the short term. . . . The ankle is not 100 percent. This is not a robot. This is a human being.
“We're going to play it by ear and see how it goes.”
It was the only part of the day that wasn't meticulously orchestrated.
A few minutes before Beckham and league officials emerged from the HDC tunnel, Victoria, Beckham's pop-star wife, walked out gingerly in her 6-inch stiletto heels and posed for the legion of photographers, sticking one knee in front of the other and placing her left hand on the hip of her electric fuchsia dress.
The loudest cheers were for Beckham himself, decked out in a gray suit with a gray silk tie.
“I think soccer in America has a lot of potential,” he said. “It's just that something is missing to take it to another level, and I'm hoping I'm going to be part of that.”
The loudest boos were reserved for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the subject of a recent scandal involving an extramarital affair with a TV news reporter. When the boos subsided, someone yelled loud enough for everyone to hear: “Is your girlfriend covering this?”
Villaraigosa immediately launched into damage control by – you guessed it – slipping on a No. 23 Galaxy jersey and shrieking into the microphone: “Who loves Beckham?”
Boos magically turned to muted cheers.
Sitting not far from Villaraigosa was MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who later admitted the best part of Beckham's arrival is that he won't have to sit “next to people on planes so much who say M-S-L.”
But even Garber cautioned that Beckham, as mega a soccer star as they come, would not transform the sport by himself.
“My biggest fear is that people look into this too much,” Garber said. “It's still a sport that has a generation of development in front of it.”
And that's fine with Beckham, who has always fashioned himself as being just one of the guys in the locker room – never mind that he now lives in a $22 million, 13,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills, or that he'll make $6.5 million per year while some of his Galaxy teammates make as little as $12,900.
“I've tried to live my life as normal as possible,” said Beckham, who noted that he drove himself to The Home Depot Center yesterday.
“I've tried to make my children's lives as normal as possible. After I do all this today with the people and the press, I'll go home and jump in the pool with my kids.”
i took this article from san diego.com which tells us a lil bit more bout the hype mr david beckham made during his presentation in front of 3000 fans and 500 journalists. im really glad americans didnt push him aside just bcoz hes more popular off the field. but im more concern with the outcome of his games in upcoming months. if lets say, LA Galaxy failed to win trophies, becks would definitely be the scapegoat. lets hope this is not the case.