- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2007

David Beckham’s arrival at the Los Angeles Galaxy is just days away.

Next Friday, the English midfielder will be introduced to the U.S. media at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. When he makes his debut for the Galaxy in an exhibition game against Chelsea of the Premier League on July 21, ESPN will have 19 cameras at the game including a “Beckham Cam” focusing on the player’s every move and a “Celebrity Cam” to spot all his Hollywood buddies in the crowd.

If we’ve learned anything in the last six months, it’s to never underestimate Beckham. He continues to reinvent himself, whether it’s a new hairdo, a new TV commercial or a sudden return to form. After last year’s World Cup, it seemed Beckham’s better playing days were behind him. When he signed with the Galaxy in January, Fabio Capello Beckham’s coach on Real Madrid was among those who criticized the superstar. Rather than fold under pressure, Beckham helped a surging Madrid win its first Spanish Liga title since 2003.

While Beckham’s arrival likely will boost attendance at MLS games the average attendance this year has been about 15,000 fans a game he’s not here to save soccer in America. Twenty years ago it was almost impossible to find a soccer game on television. This weekend alone you can catch numerous games on Fox Soccer Channel, ESPNU and GolTV. RFK Stadium is almost sold out for Beckham’s visit on Aug. 9.

Instead, Beckham’s arrival likely will stimulate faithful soccer fans while converting others who might not normally watch the sport. Aficionados of the sport will want to see how Beckham fares in his new environment on the pitch. Fair-weather fans probably will be more drawn in by his celebrity status, his wife Victoria a member of the newly reunited Spice Girls or friends like Tom Cruise, who likely will be a regular at his games.

Beckham’s arrival is also a signal to overseas players that it’s kosher to play in MLS. Who knows, it could inspire Zinedine Zidane to come out of retirement.

But before folks rush out to join the Beckham bandwagon, it’s wise to read the fine print. Beckham is not your typical all-around player superstar. He’s no Pele, Diego Maradona or Ronaldinho. He rarely heads the ball, dribbles or uses his left foot.

Rather, Beckham’s brilliance lies in his free kicks, where he has the unique ability to curl the ball over a defensive wall. Then there are his delightful crosses, where he seemingly bends the ball at great speed without overplaying the kick. Those passes from the flanks are a nightmare for goalies but a joy for forwards, where just the slightest touch can send the ball into the net.

So don’t expect Beckham to perform miracles on the field. Study his style and the way he bends the ball. The ticket price might be worth it.

Much ado about Adu Similar to Beckham, Freddy Adu recently has received a good amount of criticism only to bounce back. Last week, a D.C. United official talked about how much he believed Adu’s stock had fallen. Then on Tuesday, Adu, 18, recorded a hat trick in the U.S. team’s 6-1 win over Poland at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Montreal. It’s quite possible that overseas clubs will be taking another look at Adu, who hails from Potomac.

Roundup Former D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen, 29, signed a new five-year contract with Blackburn Rovers, the team he joined in 2005 after helping United win the title in 2004.

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