David Beckham’s first home game back with the Galaxy was (almost) everything you could ask for from a preseason (for Milan) friendly that was more about the show than the result and the money AEG was making from its prize soccer asset.
Was it a coincidence David Beckham was playing against his former and likely future club and looked more interested performing for the Galaxy Sunday night than he did for half of last season?
I think not.
Beckham created both L.A. goals and indeed during the first half he seemed responsible for virtually every Galaxy attack of note in front of as packed a stadium as I’ve ever seen at Home Depot Center (but it nevertheless worked out to exactly an announced 27,000 as usual). It was a pleasure to watch, but somehow it felt more than a little calculated.
Beckham played this game and this crowd like the savvy public relations expert he is. The prestigious event against classy European opposition. Buddy Tom Cruise watching from the stands. And a little slice of anti-hero just to add spice.
David Beckham controls the ball against AC Milan defenders Massimo Ambrosini (23) and Mathieu Flamini. (AP Photo).
Beckham even had the obligatory confrontation with the unforgiving Riot Squad just before half time that was suitably provocative and inconsequential enough to bolster, not harm his pseudo-macho image (this is the second game in a row the usually reticent Becks has worn a – gasp- short sleeve soccer jersey that does nothing to hide his tats).
In contrast to what Beckham insisted he yelled at the crowd, one press box colleague related that he was told Becks said a word that starts with “m” and ends with “r” and taunted a fan to come on down and get a piece of him. So the fan did, never made it to the field and got thrown out (but not arrested), according to the Riot Squad message boards.
Notable: Milan Coach Leonardo expressing surprise at the Galaxy tactics given that Beckham was in midfield:
“The first half was very tough for both teams,” he said. “The long balls of the Galaxy was a big surprise to us.”