Beckham Update: Galaxy in Full Damage Control Mode

AP Photo

i-8cefb3b51695904acc0920ec7d11204b-345,http---d.yimg.com-a-p-ap-20090308-capt.10ca7c6695fd452194db6a399cf59d9c.italy_soccer_serie_a_xac118.jpgDavid Beckham waves to fans after the Serie A soccer match today between AC Milan and Atalanta at the San Siro.

You almost had to feel sorry for Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena and President of Business Operations Tom Payne who were on today’s conference call with reporters, trying valiantly to put a positive spin on what’s shaping up to be the biggest public relations debacle to ever hit MLS.

The smooth-talking architect behind the Beckham time share – AEG President Tim Leiweke – was presumably resting under a rock somewhere and was unavailable to justify to fans how it can be remotely construed as good for the Galaxy that his Beckhamness will grace us with his presence for six whole MLS home games beginning after the all-star break with the Aug. 15 encounter with the Seattle Sounders.

Arena did his best though:

“This situation is considerably better than it was in 2007 for a variety of reasons. One is that David is settled in L.A. Two, he is well aware of his environment now, he knows the league, he knows the team – so I think his transition is much smoother this time around. … He could suffer an injury at any time, just like any other player. We’re hopeful he’s healthy and fully fit.”

Actually, Bruce, the situation is uncomfortably close to the 2007 debacle and claiming that he’s “settled in L.A.” when he clearly isn’t because he’s going to move to AC Milan for good ASAP is just a silly statement to make.

I asked Arena why you would want a player back who clearly doesn’t want to be with the Galaxy:

“I actually had contact with David today, we e-mailed each other,” Arena said. “He’s pretty pleased to be coming back. He is happy coming back. He wants to be in L.A., he wants to take on this challenge. Despite the public statements that have been made over the last couple of months, I think we’re getting back a player who wants to be here and is motivated to do well. If it was the other way around and this player had no interest in being here we would not have done this – I can guarantee you that. … The only way were going to be able to answer your question is when David shows up here in July and we watch the way he contributes to the team. … I’m very optimistic that David’s addition to our team in July is going to be a positive.”

BTW, Beckham played a pivotal role in AC Milan’s win today, receiving a standing ovation when he left the field.

I’ll have more later on the unfolding reaction to the Beckham shell game.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group columnist and blogger Nick Green writes about soccer at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Beaten

    Arena said:

    “We’re hopeful he’s healthy and fully fit.”

    Knackered from a tiring European season?

    Surely you jest, Bruce…

  • Ben

    And the earth is flat and the center of the universe, right Bruce…

    I mean obviously everyone has to put up a good face and smile, but these statements are just too much lipstick…

    Thanks for the reporting, though.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Of course Beckham’s happy to be back in L.A. He’s back on HIS terms, not Leiweke’s or AEG’s. Milan doesn’t care because they can use the first few months of the upcoming season to look at some of their younger players.

    If Leiweke or Garber were serious about their “deadline” and about Beckham’s role in North America, all they had to say at the outset was, “While we’re flattered in Milan’s interest to buy David, we will not sell because he’s too important for the league’s development.” They didn’t. Instead, they catered to Beckham, panicked in the face of Milan and made themselves look like the rank amateurs that they are.

    BTW, how come nobody on this “conference call” asked that? How come nobody asked for the real figures involved?

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    WARNING! AEG RANT COMING UP. WARNING! AEG RANT COMING UP…

    The smooth-talking architect behind the Beckham time share – AEG President Tim Leiweke – was presumably resting under a rock somewhere and was unavailable to justify to fans how it can be remotely construed as good for the Galaxy…

    It’s “good for the Galaxy” because it’s good for Leiweke. Remember, this is the same moron who said that HE did Beckham and Donovan a favor by loaning them out, that HE will not be “screwed over.”

    Ol’ Timbo learned his managerial style from King Louis XIV, I guess. You know, L’equipe ces’t moi!

    And it’s good for Leiweke because, otherwise, Uncle Phil would have fired his sorry ass.

    How this jerk remains employed by an organization that views itself as the world’s leading venue builder and booker would be beyond Einstein, let alone me.

  • http://goal.com Zac Lee Rigg

    My favorite part was when they called the deal “innovative” in the Galaxy press release. That description was innovative, but I wouldn’t describe the overall deal as such.

  • Don

    I am delighted by the deal. Now it is up to the Galaxy to do what they should have done in the first place. Beckham was brought in to provide creativity for the offense. He did exactly that. Donovan and Buddle had career years with his service. The Galaxy scored more goals last year than any other team. They also gave up the most goals. If they can create a reasonable (not even an outstanding defence), the Galaxy can be both an exciting and successful team. I think Arena is capable of doing just that. Other teams with designated players have been able to do this (see Fire, Crew and Red Bulls). I am a Seattle Sounders supporter and want them to win the championship, but if they don’t, I would love the Galaxy to storm to the title. What a story! What a finish! We can boo and cheer to hearts delight. Let’s have fun.