Sunday, April 13, 2008
ESPNsoccernet: April 15, 2:57 AM UK
Beckham frustrated by Toronto loss
CARSON, Calif. -- On a day when David Beckham could have enjoyed the glory of a multiple assist game, he instead faced a humiliating 3-2 loss to Toronto, a team which owned the worst record in the league entering Sunday. Beckham's teammates squandered chance after chance on a hot day that might have left the midfielder longing for cooler temperatures elsewhere.
The day could have actually been worse for Beckham. It appeared that he fouled Jeff Cunningham, the late-goal hero for Toronto, on a breakaway attempt where Beckham was the last defender, an offense that technically is worthy of red card. After the match, Cunningham shrugged off the incident, gracious in victory.
"The rule says it should be a red card, but I'm a player, too, and that would have been a bit harsh," said Cunningham.
Even the Galaxy coach admitted that Beckham's move put him in peril.
"We were lucky there," Ruud Gullit admitted of the non-call. "It was the one time we got lucky."
Considering that Beckham was one of the most effective Galaxy players, it would have perhaps been a crushing blow to be without his services for the next match, against conference rival Houston.
"Sometimes they're given and sometimes they're not," said Beckham of the foul. "We got away with one."
It was obvious that Beckham was clearly frustrated by the time he fouled Cunningham, though at that point the Galaxy still had an outside chance to win the match. The momentum belonged to the Canadian squad, though, after the Galaxy had proved wasteful multiple times in the first half. It was almost humorous, but in a slightly shocking way, that the Galaxy missed on the final touch of so many opportunities.
"Sometimes it's cruel," Gullit observed. "It's incredible that we didn't win this game."
Beckham refused to dwell too much on the situation. "Three games into the season we can't panic too much, though we're disappointed today, people are starting to panic too much."
However, he was realistic about the Galaxy's failings in the latter part of the game, even as he proclaimed that the team should have been leading comfortably after creating so many chances.
"We lost our shape in the second half," said Beckham. "That's where the problem started and they started passing the ball around us and they started creating chances."
In fact, that loss of shape was part of the reason why Beckham was wandering the field at times, checking back repeatedly to help the defenders. He became a bit testy when questioned about it in the second half.
"I did," Beckham responded shortly when asked why he didn't drop back to defend. He referenced the Cunningham foul as evidence. "I was out there helping."
What Beckham perhaps realizes he can't do, even after serving up balls on a platter for his teammates, is give them the poise to conclude the play properly.
"It's about creating chances and having the confidence to finish them off," Beckham acknowledged. "It's about putting the goals away. Hopefully that will start soon."
For his part, Landon Donovan believed he and his teammates might have been too optimistic in going for the win late in the game, leaving them vulnerable to the counterattack that Toronto capitalized on.
"We were a bit naive," said Donovan, who scored twice but left other chances begging. "Given the circumstances, that they were playing better than us, perhaps we should have gotten out there with a point."
For perhaps the first time, Beckham spoke to the idea that his presence on the team brings such attention to the squad that it perhaps makes his teammates a bit nervous, making it harder for them to perform.
"I don't want to discuss too much about myself in the Galaxy," said Beckham. "It's more important to talk about the team and the players. That's more important at the moment."
He noted that the media might blow the game out of proportion.
"There's a big spotlight on the team," said Beckham. "Let's just look forward to this next game and forget this one happened."
It might be easy for Beckham, with all his experience in pressure-filled situations, to move on easily, but the key for the Galaxy will be if his teammates are able to do so as well. Andrea Canales covers MLS and women's college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She also writes for soccer365.com and contributes to a blog, Sideline Views. She can be contacted at email@example.com.