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CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 13: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy high fives children prior to the start of the MLS Western Conference Championship soccer match against Houston Dynamo The Home Depot Center on November 13, 2009 in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
David Beckham has sold a lot of Galaxy jerseys. He’s made a lot of headlines, particularly with his flirting and playing with AC Milan while under contract in Los Angeles. He has become part of the celebrity culture in the city, often seen courtside at Lakers games. He's made a lot of money.
The soccer… six months ago the word everyone was using was “disaster.”
Back in July — when Beckham returned to the Galaxy from a loan to Madrid — things were not pretty. He was greeted by many fans who saw him as a traitor that would rather be playing in Europe. Beckham nearly got into an altercation with a fan at one home game. And a new book came out where Donovan called out Beckham’s leadership qualities.
But if there is one constant in Beckham’s career, it’s that when he looks washed up and done, he plays his best soccer. It was the case in 2006 when he was booted off the English national team, only to be welcomed back and is now expected to be on the 2010 World Cup roster for his country.
The Galaxy turned it around with Beckham being more of a teammate off the pitch, if not always a huge force on it (he has just two goals this season). However, his presence in the midfield and his great crossing passes have made his teammates look good.
Ironically, Beckham and Donovan will not be the key to this game for the Galaxy. Sure, they will be involved and likely part of Los Angeles’ scoring, but it will be the team’s defense that will get the test. Real Salt Lake is an attacking team with a lot of speed, a recipe that has given the Galaxy trouble in the past.
But if the defense can hold up, Beckham can finally earn some headlines in America for what he has done on the pitch. Which will be a welcome change of pace.