David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin and PLAY Magazine about soccer.
Here are two things I never thought I'd see in my lifetime: a scalper at an MLS game shouting "who needs tickets, who needs tickets" to people who actually did, and a mostly professional soccer score, 5-4, that matched Tom Cruise's height. Yet, in one surreal evening, I witnessed both. Only in New Jersey kids, only in New Jersey.
It's not that I didn't expect to encounter a frisson of pandemonium when Goldenballs' magical mystery tour rolled into Giants Stadium, I just never anticipated the seismic nature of the event. Soccer historians — both of them — will tell you that the last time this many fans — 66,237 — paid to see two American teams was 27 years ago, when the Cosmos were snorting themselves silly at Studio 54. Back then, it only cost you $20 to boo the shit out of Giorgio Chinaglia; whereas on Saturday night someone offered me $200 for my $50 seat (believe me, I thought hard about it before remembering that I'm already under investigation for my role in the Bad Jewz Kennel) for the privilege of peeing on Beckham's parade.
Who would have thunk it? The man whom American soccer is hoping will rescue it from a tsunami of indifference being jeered by the Red Bulls faithful, perhaps resentful of the 55,000 extra fans who had intruded on their unmolested privacy. Ever the gentleman, Beckham looked up at the hecklers shouting "who are ya? who are ya?" put a finger to his lips and proceeded to flight perfectly weighted balls onto the heads of his teammates that screamed "if you can't nod this into the back of the net, you're even more of a stinking heap of MLS dung that I thought."
Then again, you don't have to be McLovin to score on the Superbad defenses of the Bulls and the Galaxy. Let me put it this way: My daughter's former U-10 travel team, the Mighty Chicks, could have bulged the 'ol onion bag Saturday night, and I don't mean it in the way you're thinking.
Nine goals — eight more than Tony "Nothing Excites Me Like A 1-0 Soccer Game" Kornheiser, thought humanly possible and at least four more than a semi-professional goalkeeper would have allowed (Hey Lens, you'll be right at home in MLS) — were scored and Becks had a foot in three of them, all from (surprise, surprise) dead ball situations. Not bad numbers for a guy with a bum wheel, but truth be told, he did fuck-all in the run of play.
Clearly still hurting, he played uncharacteristically deep in midfield, leaving it to Landycakes to run the show. And unless he was rushing over to bitch-out the ref or threaten an ankle-massaging Red Bulls player with a "dandruff salad" (think Zidane with much better hair), he moved in only one gear — a half jog. He also had four free kicks blocked.
That said, everyone went home happy, except perhaps for the LA braintrust of Alexi Lalas and Frank Yallop, who are running out of time to keep the Galaxy from turning into soccer's version of the Harlem Globetrotters.