I am a typical American. Played some soccer when I was young. However, had little interest in it when older. I recall I was a missionary for the LDS (Mormon) church living in Sassari in August 1974. I remember a hot day in August when the streets of the town were empty because all the locals were watching something called the World Cup. I watched a World Cup final game or two after that. Had no interest to go to any of the World Cup games here in the U.S. I could not tell you to this day which year the World Cups were held here. I would guess it was in the 90's. There was a game to the Rose Bowl. Heard tickets were too expensive. Again, I was a typical American.
Then in 2007 I heard David Beckham was coming to play for the Galaxy. I only had heard of him because of the movie "Bend It Like Beckham". The buzz was the cool thing was to go to his first game, something called a "friendly" against I believe it was Chelsea (would not bet my life on my recollection however). John who? Frank who? Drog-something who?
We bought a couple of fairly outrageously priced tickets. My best friend, author and reality TV star Paul Bishop, was from England. He gave me a crash course in "football." The key was the triangle. I knew of the triangle from the Lakers and Phil Jackson.
We went to the game. It was magical. The game now made sense. I was fixated on the players getting into open space. I have been to a lot of sporting events. I have been to several Laker games where Kobe Bryant has hit the winning shot at the buzzer. I had never seen a crowd get so excited and it was just because David Beckham, who had not started the game because of injury, was just lacing up his "boots". When we hobbled onto the field the crowd went wild.
I became a soccer fan. I became a Galaxy fan. However, David Beckham and the team were not very good. This Landon Donovan guy was pretty good, although a scrawny little guy.
Beckham then went on loan to some team in Italy called "A C Milan". The games were hard to watch on Fox Soccer Channel, not in High Definition then. But these Milan guys could play. Ronaldihno, Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaka, Abate, Abbiati, and on and on. I WAS HOOKED. I watched every game. I even watched Intermilan games.
I would only go to a couple of Galaxy games a year. It was pretty crappy soccer overall.
I, however, was a hard core MIlan fan. I was very much wanting to go see a Milan game in Italy. I am still fluent in Italian. I was thinking about going to Italy to see them play at Parma, I had pretty busy schedule in my life at that time. But I took ill. I was devastated when Beckham went down with the Achilles injury.
However, it was a blessing in disguise. He must have needed the rest. Months later he came back and has been awesome ever since. I assume it was because he wanted to impress and make the Olympic team. However, even since last summer he continues to impress with his effort. His kicks downfield to running a Robbie Keane or a kick to the head of Robbie in the box are a thing of beauty. (Hopefully I am getting the soccer lingo right.)
A year ago Paul Bishop and I took our wives to Milan to see a game at the San Siro. What an evening! The energy of the crowd was amazing. To feel the sound vibrations of the ball being kicked was marvelous. To see Zlatan (a thug, but he was my thug) and the others was simply a treat. I continue to this day on occasion cannot get the tune of Milan Milan out of my head. They even won. Fantastic.
A different team this year. I am still a fan, a tifoso, though. Through thick and thin.
Tomorrow I am going to the MLS Cup, the league championship game. The Galaxy against Houston.
It is also David Beckham's last game with the Galaxy (hey, I thought you signed a two year contract!). It will be a bittersweet experience. Sweet because we will get to honor a player who has given us many exciting moments but sad to see him go.
Planning on going to see the Champions league game in March. Waiting for the draw to find out when.
Hopefully my (Italian) team will beat Catania today.
Forza Milan! Go get em' Galaxy!
Kevin from California