Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
This year, Beckham is part of a real team
by Ridge Mahoney, November 20th, 2009 6:45AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS CUP 2009]What do the goals Landon Donovan scored against New England to win Goal of the Year and the penalty kick he converted to clinch a 2-0 victory over Houston in the Western Conference finals have in common? Answer: On both of them and just about every other Donovan goal scored when David Beckham was on the field this season, said teammate was the first to congratulate him.

"I'm always first to the goalscorer, I've been notorious for that during my career," said Beckham. "This is no different." Left unsaid was how often Beckham beat the crowd to Donovan in their first two seasons together in MLS, yet in this case, everything is different.

Beckham has also been somewhat notorious for proving people wrong, as he's done at Real Madrid, with the English national team, AC Milan, and now with the Galaxy. Coach Bruce Arena knew the most important aspect of Beckham returning from Milan wasn't when he arrived, but what kind of a team he'd be joining.

"Our immediate goal was to make the playoffs," said Arena of a season that started with one win, one loss, and an astonishing nine ties in the first 11 games. "I confidentially had a goal of having 25 points when David Beckham arrived, and we had 24. Then we went on a spectacular run. We wanted to get our heads above water by the time that David got here, and that wasn't easy. We kept ourselves alive. When David came he obviously made us a little bit of a different team."

The Galaxy, already pretty good, got that much better, but not solely because of Beckham, who played only 11 regular-season games, scored two goals, and contributed three assists. As he's done throughout his career, his presence enhanced the abilities of his teammates, drew the attention and occasional foul from opponents, and created more space and time and opportunities for Donovan, et al, and relieved pressure on the defense; the Galaxy conceded a league-worst 62 goals last year, and cut that in half during the 2009 regular season.

Do the math: After that 1-1-9 start, Los Angeles has posted a 13-5-4 mark (including playoffs), and whether either is out wide or in the middle or somewhere in between, Donovan and Beckham strive to integrate their touches and moves and ideas with those of their teammates.

"There's no question those two have a great working relationship right now," said Arena, dismissing the criticisms and snarky comments relayed through the media before he helped broker a détente. "They're classy people with good character. They both want the same thing. They want a good team, they both want to lead."

The rudderless, lost team of 2007 and 2008 now has leadership a'plenty. Defender Gregg Berhalter, midfielder Dema Kovalenko, and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts are just three of the players added by Arena that brought not only tenacity and talent but drive and determination. Rookie defenders Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza and second-year man Sean Franklinwere surrounded by accomplished pros familiar with winning. As many players have stated, that bloated number in the ties column usually reflected comebacks, not collapses.

"We were getting a lot of ties, but they were good ties and good results," said left back Todd Dunivant, who missed the Houston playoff game with an illness but expects to be healthy for the final. "We were coming back, and battling back, and getting results. We were building something. People on the outside might not have seen it, but we were building here. You've seen us get stronger throughout the year and I think it's a result of that work early on."

Donovan has already won league MVP and Goal of the Year. Gonzalez is Rookie of the Year. Arena is Coach of the Year. Donovan believes his namesake should have been Goalkeeper of the Year. Those honors are products of success attained by the team. The previous two turmoil-roiled seasons, as it turns out, were borne of losing, not salary disparities or media scrums or backdoor power struggles.

"Those issues just go away, but we said that at the beginning of the year; that we had a bunch of guys who weren't going to be oohed and ahhed over the hoopla that surrounds David," said Dunivant. "He's been a very good teammate and great guy to have on your team because he's a world class player. We knew the personnel we had was going to be able to deal with that and so far, so good."

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Draw: 2016-17 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League    
MLS's Sporting KC and the Vancouver Whitecaps will meet in the group stage of the 2016-17 ...
By the Numbers: MLS home and away, best and worst    
What They're Saying: Security analyst Alejandro Hope    
"Alan Pulido was victim of the most inept kidnappers on the planet or there is something ...
MLS Power Rankings: Rapids still first, Philly edges into third    
Colorado, Philadelphia and the Red Bulls maintained their good form as the Copa America Centenario break ...
NASL Rewind: Red cards fly as Cosmos stay on top    
Defending champ New York Cosmos took a big step toward winning the NASL spring title, which ...
U-17 WWC: USA to face Paraguay, Ghana and Japan    
The draw for the Jordan-hosted 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup (Sept. 30-Oct. 21) took place on ...
NWSL Rewind: Thorns draw without stars, scoring down    
There was good news and bad news to Sunday's Cascadia match between the Portland Thorns and ...
What They're Saying: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge    
"Discrimination of any kind in sport and this society deserves the red card. Jerome Boateng is ...
NWSL Week 7: Results & Standings    
The Portland Thorns extended their unbeaten streak to seven matches with a 0-0 tie against its ...
MLS Talking Points: Positives for Rapids and Union    
At Memorial Day, more than one-third into the 2016 MLS regular season, the Colorado Rapids and ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives