Any self-respecting Galaxy fan should crawl out of bed at 4:30 a.m. Saturday (or set up the DVR) to see what may be one of the most absorbing EPL games of the year so far from an American perspective – Landon Donovan (and Tim Howard) and Everton against the mighty Manchester United, Wayne Rooney and all. Best of all, it’s on in HD on ESPN2.
Need more reasons to get psyched? Here’s a selection of stories previewing the game (or focusing on Donovan) including:
*Sports Ilustrated’s Grant Wahl on the potential implications for the Galaxy on Donovan’s form (which I not coincidentally agree with completely) you can read here.
*The Daily Express on American soccer’s (and Donovan’s) search for respect.
*The game basics, including likely starting lineups, from the Guardian here.
Curious that AEG made no public announcement of it in conjunction with the closure of the London academy back in December. But not surprising given the damage control/spinning AEG and 19 Entertainment representatives spent much of Friday engaged in as they tried to convince me this was not a story. When a Beckham rep calls you from home at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday London time, you know how sensitive his management team is to ANY suggestion of bad news.
(Updated: The Galaxy youth teams – the club’s academy teams, if you will – are now using the Beckham academy’s former FieldTurf pitch, as well as one of its trailers.)
BTW, unlike last January (when Becks scored and AC Milan beat Bologna 4-1), the two teams tied 0-0 today. Beckham came on as a 79th minute sub for AC Milan, who are now 10 points behind table-topping rivals Inter.
And in an unusual position, too, by the sound of it.
Beckham: A picture of concentration in today’s game for AC Milan against Genoa. (AP Photo)
Here’s the game report:
MILAN (AP) — David Beckham began his second stint with AC Milan on Wednesday night, playing 76 minutes and positioned at forward rather than his usual midfield during his team’s 5-2 victory over Genoa in the Italian league.
The English star lined up on the right side of an attacking trio with Marco Borriello and
Ronaldinho. He came close to scoring in the first half, his long shot hitting the side
Beckham, on loan from the Galaxy, is looking to sharpen his game leading to the World Cup in South Africa.
In the third minute, Beckham crossed to Borriello, but Genoa’s Marco Amelia pushed away the shot from close range shot.
Milan won behind penalty kicks from Ronaldinho and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, two goals by Borriello and another by Thiago Silva. Giuseppe Sculli and David Suazo scored for Genoa.
AC Milan (10-3-4) moved into second place in Serie A with 34 points, eight behind Inter
(13-2-3), which won 1-0 at Chievo Verona on Mario Balotelli’s 12th-minute goal.
MILAN (AP) — David Beckham hopes his second stint with AC Milan will be as good as the five months he spent on loan with the Italian club in 2009.
The England and Galaxy midfielder passed a physical Tuesday and has spent the past two days training with his teammates.
AC Milan resumes play Jan. 6 against Genoa.
“My experience with the club was so special,” Beckham said Wednesday. “I missed the club. I missed playing for it; I missed the players and everybody associated with the club. It was a very special experience. It was good last time and I hope it will be as good this time.”
Beckham scored twice in 18 games for Milan from January to May 2009 while on loan from the Galaxy. He has repeated the move in a bid to secure his place at the 2010 World Cup.
After a slow start, new Milan coach Leonardo has been praised for an attacking philosophy that has taken his team into second place, eight points behind Inter Milan but with a game in hand.
“Milan can certainly win the title,” Beckham said. “It will be difficult because Inter and Juventus are great teams, but we have a good squad. All I am thinking about is the next six months here. I want to enjoy myself and help Milan win the championship.”
Beckham will return to Old Trafford in February for the first time since leaving Manchester United in 2003, after Milan was drawn against Manchester United in the Champions League.
It will be the first time he has played in the competition since 2007, when Real Madrid lost to Bayern Munich in the second round.
“When I found about the draw, I was nearly in tears,” he said. “It is a special place for me and I haven’t played there for nearly seven years. I have a lot of friends at the club and a great rapport with the fans. It will be a special evening, but we will be trying to win the match.”
Supposedly he’ll be back in mid-July 2010, after the World Cup concludes.
Beckham found time to take in the Lakers game Sunday after playing in one of his final appearances at the HDC before heading to Italy. Son, Brooklyn, looked unimpressed though. (AP Photo)
He’ll join Milan Dec. 28 after the Galaxy’s post-season tour and remain with the Italian club through the end of their season in May.
“After the wonderful experience of last season we are very happy to see David Beckham again wearing the red and black colors,” said Adriano Galliani, Vice President and CEO of AC Milan. “We are confident his loan spell will not only improve Milan, it will help the player to take part in the World Cup in South Africa and continue to enhance his career in North America with the LA Galaxy. We would like to thank the Galaxy and MLS for their co-operation and understanding.”
“I need to give myself the best chance possible to make the World Cup squad and playing for Milan on loan will help me to do that,” Beckham said. “I genuinely enjoyed my time at Milan and I look forward to meeting the players and staff again. I’m thankful to Tim Leiweke and Bruce Arena for allowing me this opportunity. I’m committed to LA Galaxy and MLS in the long term and remain as passionate as ever about growing the game of soccer in America . I’m completely focused on ending this season on a high note with my club by winning the MLS Cup.”
So another season of Beckham-era ticket prices then, but the team will be without Beckham for all but 11 games or so (which is what he managed this season).
The U.S. Women’s National Team plays Germany Oct. 29 in Augsburg, one of the venues for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. A top-class match-up between nations that haven’t met in nine years – and naturally there’s no TV coverage in the U.S.
Ah well, that’s not the case for many games this weekend. As always, click the link to the right for full details, but here’s the games I’ll be paying attention to this weekend:
*6:55 a.m. ESPN2HD Wigan Athletic-Manchester United (this is pretty much a derby for those who don’t know their English geography. Can Wigan pull a Burnley?)
*7 a.m. Fox Soccer Channel Manchester City-Wolverhampton Wanderers (a match-up between the EPL’s newest moneybags and the newly promoted)
*11:30 a.m. FSC AC Milan-Siena (Serie A opener)
*1 p.m. Prime WPS final between the Sol and FC Sky Blue (Tickets start at $20 for this game at the HDC for those who prefer to be there live)
*2 p.m. FSC Hull City-Bolton Wanderers (Will Jozy Altidore play in his first game for Hull?)
*4:30 p.m. FSC D.C. United-Galaxy (David Beckham and Eddie Lewis return from one-game suspensions)
*7:30 p.m. Prime Chivas USA-Toronto (The flailing Goats’ first game in a month at home and with every adult ticket purchased starting at $15 a kid – um, child that is – gets in free)
*8 a.m. FSC Fulham-Chelsea (with Clint Dempsey, who signed a new deal with Fulham this week, presumably leading the charge)
BTW, the college season is getting under way and locally the No. 17 boy Bruins get things started against Bakersfield at 3 p.m. Saturday at North Athletic Field. Admission is free. (The No. 3-ranked women visit top-ranked North Carolina Saturday, BTW).
In Long Beach, it’s the 49ers against Fresno State at 3 p.m. Sunday at George Allen Field.
(At this point I plan to blog from both games at the HDC Saturday, so check in for the latest as the weekend progresses).
I was impressed: clearly there are soccer fans in L.A. with more fortitude than myself.
After working all day, I couldn’t face a 90 minute commute in the withering heat from the South Bay to Pasadena (especially with a Dodger game scheduled) so chose to stay home and snuggle up with a cold one in front of my hi def TV. (And yeah, I know I’m a spoiled wimp of a journalist considering I get to sit in an air-conditioned press box).
Still, it was a fun spectacle from my vantage point – or at least the first half was – despite the less than illuminating color commentary of John “not so brilliant” Harkes and his lingering fake English accent. (How the hell that guy – also responsible for perhaps the most poorly written soccer-related biography of all time keeps his job is beyond me. My biggest pet peeve? When he insists on saying “offsides” when he means offside – singular. Aggh!).
Which is why I was a little surprised to see the tone of this column from co-worker Scott Wolf.
Scott is a huge fan of the European game, owns more replica jerseys than any human being I know and often heads to Europe to take in a few games.
Scott has a lacerating sense of understatement he usually uses to good effect to skewer the deserving, but this one missed the mark (check out the comments at the end of the story).
Do pointy-ball football teams sell out preseason games? Thought not.
When that many people show up to an exhibition game early in pre-season (that one would think could be of questionable quality) on a weekday in these weather conditions at a time when this country is saturated with visiting top-class teams, well, the U.S. soccer community should be saluted, not condemned, for it’s showing.