David Hirshey writes regularly about soccer for Deadspin.
Imagine my relief when I arrived at Kinsale Tavern on Saturday morning for the weekly Deadspin Drunkathlon to find that the place hadn't been turned into a beauty spa. I half expected that every Irish bar worth its Guinness would start offering manicures and pedicures in deference to the Metrosexualization of American Soccer. Worse, I was worried that the six TVs over the bar would be showing an endless loop of LA Galaxy highlights featuring Landon Donovan wreaking havoc on the Colorado Rapids and Kansas City Wizards as opposed to, say, the Czech Republic and Ghana.
But aside from the annoying crawl at the bottom of the screen urging you to "Get Your David Beckham Galaxy Jersey Now," it was pretty much business as usual with three matches being beamed in from That Other League. I am well aware that the Premiership cannot hope to compete with the apocalyptic hype of BLS (Beckham League Soccer) in the coming months, but it's nice to know that it hasn't completely closed up shop in the wake of Goldenballs moving his sarongs and free kick excellence to America.
Of course, much of the pre-game talk at the bar revolved around whether Beckham, like a slightly feyer version of Jack Bauer, could save America from the infidels, in this case the xenophobic, shitting-in-their-pants soccerphobes like Jay Mariotti who view the sport's growing popularity as a threat to the Republic. As Cardillo put it so eloquently in response to Mariotti saying that soccer only appeals to "ethnics:" "Way to go, asshole. When you suffer your next heart attack, I'll be sure to send flowers."
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By contrast, Beckham's decision to play in America has been endorsed by such soccer-savvy celebrities as Madonna ( I hear her new Malawian baby has a wicked left foot), Sly Stallone (he recently bragged that he broke his finger trying to stop Pele's shot in Victory) and Tom Cruise who "couldn't speak any higher than what he was saying about L.A." I don't know about you, but the revelation that the tiny Scientologist is a stoner who gets ripped out of his mind when the subject of LA comes up rocked my world.
As did the news that Becks may end up bumping into Jose Mourinho at the Madrid airport. What a seismic shift in world soccer that would be — Beckham going from Galactico to Galaxtico and Mourinho going from preening, paranoid Special One for whom almost 500 million in transfer fees at Chelsea is not enough to win the Premiership to preening, paranoid Special One at Real for whom Beckham, Ronaldo, Raul, etc. are excess baggage in his quest to overtake Barcelona. Perhaps that's why midway through Chelsea's 4-0 dismantling of Wigan, the fans at Stamford Bridge could be heard chanting "Stand Up For The Special One," a clear message to Roman Abramovich that the Russian oligarch better open his wallet a bit more if he doesn't want Mourinho giving Real any more come-hither looks.
It should be noted that at Kinsale everyone remained seated and DD regular Luke Dempsey, all tarted up in his ManU jersey with matching scarf and unbearably smug in the knowledge that Chelsea is still six points back of his beloved Red Devils, spoke for all of us when he said of Mourinho: "What a tosser!"
Dempsey, along with his fellow ex-Pat, the former Columbia All-America soccer player Tommy McMenemy, couldn't take their eyes off the ManU-Villa game and listening to their dialogue, I began to grow concerned that perhaps my fears of creeping metrosexualization were indeed warranted.
Dempsey: "Tommy, look at how Scholesy caresses the ball. It's like he's having sex with it and he doesn't even know the ball's name."
McMenemy: "Get a grip, Luke, he just butchered an easy chance"
Dempsey: "Yeah, I know but I'd still have his man-baby."
It's safe to say that months before he kicks a ball upon our hallowed shores David Beckham's influence on American soccer is already being felt.