David Beckham’s Adios Tour Begins

December 1, 2011

Photograph by Declan Byrne

SPECIAL FROM JAKARTA -- It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

When David Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 it was billed as the great American soccer invasion. He was supposed to rack in a cool quarter of a billion dollars, catapult the popularity of soccer in America, party with new celebrity friends like Snoop Dogg, and lay the groundwork for a promising acting career. Indonesia? Indonesia was a holiday destination for Beckham and his beautiful wife, nothing more.

Fast forward to 2011 and the polluted, hazy air of Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno stadium. As David Beckham trotted out onto the spotchy grass, bats and mosquitoes hovered around the lights. The fans warmly greeted the man who, at age 36, still remains soccer’s most visible star. Some even extinguished their cigarettes, as they gave the English star a standing ovation. The attendance is officially close to thirty thousand, but looks closer to twenty thousand.

Throughout the match David Beckham continued to show his trademark touch in numerous kicks and corners. The team of Indonesian “National Selection” -- a conglomeration of local stars -- were often the aggressor. However, the Los Angeles Galaxy decided the game in their favor with a 14th minute goal from Irish standout Robbie Keane.

Indonesia continued to be the aggressor for the rest of the match. Several near goals from the Indonesian side drew groans from the crowd throughout the game. The Los Angeles Galaxay’s 1-0 victory in Jakarta becomes the first win of the team’s 2011 Asia-Pacific Tour. A tour perhaps better named David Beckham’s “Adios Tour” with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Indeed, Beckham’s career with the Los Angeles Galaxy will almost surely end this year. Beckham has done a lot to raise the profile of the sport in America, but he has failed to transform the general American apathy toward the MLS, even amongst the most soccer-crazed Americans.

The reason for this is cultural, Americans love the best. American sports fans know that the quality of American baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and gridiron football, from the players to the stadiums, is the best in the world.

However, Americans drawn to soccer seek that same level of excellence and realize they are more likely to find it watching EPL or La Liga games on a Sunday, rather than driving to a local soccer stadium to watch the Colombus Crew or San Jose Earthquakes. This is why Beckham’s move to the Los Angeles Galaxy was likely from the start to be more black hole than supernova.

In the post game press conference coach Bruce Arena joked that the talented Indonesian players could replace David Beckham upon his departure. But, more realistically, Didier Drogba could be the next big name to bring his star power and goal scoring potential to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Indonesian Selection was mostly a collection of Indonesia’s U-23 team. Perhaps somewhat similar to the caliber of play Beckham will face this summer if he fulfills his dream of playing for the one-off “Great Britain Team” at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

After that Beckham seems likely to sign with Paris Saint Germain. Not necessarily because PSG is a particularly good fit for a player like Beckham. Rather, Paris (like Los Angeles and Milan where Beckham has played his football in recent years) is a fashion capital. As such, it will likely keep Mrs. Victoria Beckham -- the soccer star’s wife -- happy, as she is widely seen as a driving force behind some of his moves.

In the pre-match press conference Beckham was asked if there was a possibility Indonesia would be in his future. There is little doubt that he will at some point return to Indonesia, after all he has vacationed there before.

By Joseph Hammond
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

Photograph by Declan Byrne
Contributing Photographer for The Daily Sports Herald

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