The LA Galaxy pulled the plug this week on their offseason trip to Australia to play Queensland Roar in Brisbane because of David Beckham's decision to train/play for AC Milan starting in January.
Guess we know who's running the show in LA. Certainly isn't manager/GM Bruce Arena, who was flummoxed at the initial reports Beckham may be headed to Milan to remain fit and keep his spot on the England national team. No training facilities in California I suppose; shame.
No, it's Beckham's world and the Galaxy and MLS just live in it.
Yesterday, Beckham crossed all the Ts and dotted all the I's on his deal with Milan. He will be with the club on Jan. 7 and return to the Galaxy around March 19. His first game could be Jan. 11 against Roma; question is whether he'll earn a spot in the Starting Eleven alongside Ronaldinho and Kaka in the Milan midfield. Hard to imagine.
But stranger things have happened. The 33-year-old is clearly on the other side of the hill as far as football years go, and he's not lived up to expectations in LA, nor with England where speculation is well deserved that he's just in it to break the all-time record for caps, and possibly extend that to 125 should he play in the 2010 World Cup.
That's two years away, however, and for the time being, the bigger question is whether he returns to LA after all is said and done. Milan officials said yes on Thursday, pointing out the commitment Becks has made to LA, as well as the endorsement deals he's contracted to. But if history has taught us anything, it's that deals are made to be broken. And if Milan is in position to challenge Inter for the Serie A title, or perhaps more realistically, a shot at an automatic Champions League spot, and Beckham is contributing, would Milan angle to keep him through the end of the season in May? And beyond?
I can't imagine Beckham is anxious to train every day with Landon Donovan and the collection of also-rans in LA. I can't imagine he has much respect for Bruce Arena, otherwise, he would have stayed in town, trained with the club in the offseason and helped promote the game in the U.S. as he promised when he signed. No, instead he's chasing the bigger stage--and that's fine if he weren't so damned insincere about it.
No one's buying his claims of doing this to stay fit for England's sake. For him, it's a chance to play in another major league in Europe, a chance for his wife to stake her claim in Milan's fashion universe, and a chance, yes, to stay within Fabio Capello's reach.
Try not to have an anxiety attack waiting until March 19 to see how this all plays out. Chances are that our gut instinct is right; Beckham won't be back in LA.