All the talk this past week in Major League Soccer has been about David Beckham’s new Miami franchise. It’s truly an exciting announcement for American soccer and one that has some serious upside potential. And it seems only fitting that Becks is the face doesn’t it?
While announcing the new franchise, Beckham told USA Today that he’d like the stadium of the new Miami franchise to be downtown. “Soccer fans love to walk to games, that's part of the tradition." That’s all well and good but what is he really saying here?
Upon further examination, Beckham appears to be saying one thing and is certainly guilty of doing just the opposite.
Beckham was born in Leytonstone. If the Leyton part seems familiar, it's because Leyton is the home and name of Leyton Orient, a side that has survived in the bottom three divisions of the English league without fanfare, despite living in the shadows of West Ham United. Young Beckham even had trials with them. He grew up in the Chingford area where West Ham draw a great deal of their support from. That part of Essex is West Ham territory.
During his early upbringing in London, his grandfather favored Tottenham Hotspur. You see, White Hart Lane may have been within walking distance for the Beckhams but Manchester was quite a trek indeed. Approximately 211 miles by car to be exact. His parents, both Londoners, were fanatical Manchester United supporters who would frequently travel to Old Trafford from London to attend the team's home matches so it is easy to understand how David inherited his parents' love of the Red Devils.
He inherited eschewing the values of locality and community from his parents when he made the very first big decision a young Englishman makes by himself; which football team to follow. That's fair enough. There are Manchester United fans all over the planet with no connections to the City of Manchester.
There's one difference between Beckham and them. They are not asking every other citizen to be locally loyal so that they make money.
Is a man who followed his parents' passions over local ties, also the man to ask Floridians, many of whose recent ancestors come from afar, to do the exact opposite? It was an unnecessary arrow to fire from Beckham and indicates that he seems to have whitewashed or at least forgotten his own past while traveling through the constant and frequent re shapings of his own brand.
“What does loyalty mean to David Beckham? Not much, one imagines.
As his lawyers negotiate an early end to his contract with LA Galaxy, where he is only two years into a five-year deal apparently worth £128m ($209m) and signed amid a flurry of promises, Beckham is coming under fire from supporters of the MLS club, who believe that they were sold season tickets for the coming campaign, which starts on 19 March, on the promise of his continued presence.”
It’s not difficult to understand that Beckham had no real ties to the Los Angeles club if you took the city of angels out of the equation.
In 2011, Beckham’s kids were seen rocking Arsenal and Tottenham kits during a Galaxy training session. By no stretch of the imagination is this something to lose sleep over but again, Becks is flirting with disloyalty. Again, that was none of our business until his pleas directed towards the soccer fans of Miami, asked them to do as he says, not as he has done.
So in yesterday’s announcement when Beckham asked local fans to be loyal to their local team, is the hypocrisy starting to jump off the page at you? He’s an East Londoner who surrendered his affiliation to England's most successful club. The bragging about trophy wins at school must have delighted his Spurs and West Ham supporting classmates.
At the end of the day, David Beckham is a very polished, world-class superstar and the guy is an outright winner. We know this. His investment in MLS is to be applauded.
But can he deliver on his promise to bring this sort of atmosphere to a city that has previously succumbed to chronic attendance issues and to be blunt, is still struggling? Can he confirm his loyalty to Miami and in doing so, cement the footballing culture Major League Soccer needs?
Can he convince Miamians to follow his instructions rather than his example?
For the sake of MLS, let's hope so.
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M'Baye Niang put the nightmare of the Paris terror attacks firmly behind him with two goals and an assist as AC Milan crushed a sorry Sampdoria 4-1 at the San Siro on Saturday.
Niang admitted last week the events of the past fortnight had left him worried for the safety of family and friends in and around the French capital.
But the 20-year-old from the Paris suburbs produced a confident performance for the Rossoneri, first delivering for Giacomo Bonaventura's opener on 16 minutes and then beating Emiliano Viviano from the spot after the Milan winger had been hauled down in the area seven minutes before the interval.
Niang secured Milan's seventh win of the campaign when he fired under Viviano four minutes after the restart after the 'keeper's fluffed clearance.
When he was replaced by Luiz Adriano 15 minutes from the whistle it took the Brazilian just four minutes to find the net after volleying Alessio Cerci's intelligent cross past Viviano.
The only blot on Milan's copybook was Gianluigi Donnarumma's failure to stop Luis Muriel from the spot after Andrea Pioli had tugged on Eder in the area in the closing minutes.
Milan moved up to fifth place at seven points behind leaders Inter ahead of the remainder of the weekend matches, with Sampdoria's second successive defeat under new coach Vincenzo Montella leaving them 14 points adrift.
"It was an almost perfect performance," said Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who gave a special mention to Niang.
"He's a big player for us, he was doing really well in pre-season then he got injured. Now he's back in form and he's doing well, but he already showed at Genoa (loan) what he was made of."
For the fifth consecutive match Mihajlovic opted for teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma over the more experienced Diego Lopez but the 16-year-old had to dive low to parry after his messy clearance fell to Roberto
Soriano 30 yards out in the opening minute.
From then on, it was all Milan with Niang the main protagonist before making way for Adriano on 74 minutes.
Having spent the last half of last season on loan at Genoa, the striker said he in enjoying playing in a pure
striker's role under Mihajlovic.
"I'm really happy because I've been waiting for this for a longtime, the hard work's paying off and I hope it continues like this," said Niang.
"I played as a centre-forward, the position I prefer and I think that along with our win over Lazio this was our best display this season."
Milan broke the deadlock on 16 minutes with Alessio Cerci, whose eighth minute goal was ruled offside, involved before Niang burst down the right to fire in a weighted delivery that Bonaventura slid in to meet at the back post.
Milan built on their momentum and Niang almost doubled the lead when he collected Juraj Kucka's short delivery on the right to drag his angled shot inches wide of Viviano's far post.
Sampdoria were struggling to find any rhythm and Milan's movement in the final third of the pitch was causing huge problems for the visitors.
Niang left Edgar Barreto behind to burst down the right and fire across the bows, but Bonaventura's first-timer from the six-yard line blasted over.
Samp's only real chance came when Luis Muriel dribbled his way into the area but despite turning Milan's defence his promising strike was blocked by Alessio Romagnoli.
Niang came close twice with flicks that inched wide of Viviano's post just after the restart.
But when the 'keeper fluffed a clearance, Niang collected and strode confidently into the area to fire under his body and secure the second brace of his Serie A career, after hitting a double for Genoa against Verona last season.
A tiring Niang soon made way for Adriano and only four minutes later Cerci was given time and space to the right of the area to pick out the Brazilian with a pinpoint pass which he controlled before firing past a helpless Viviano.
Earlier, Torino moved up to seventh place with a 2-0 home win over Bologna thanks to second-half goals from Andrea Belotti and Giuseppe Vives.