So, as promised, we went to see the Talented Mr. Beckham play with the L.A. Galaxy at Giants Stadium on Saturday. There was definitely a giddy energy in the stadium as he took the field to face off against New York’s Red Bulls. Everyone wanted to see something, and most, new to the sport on a professional level, didn’t know what it would be. The crowd dutifully applauded when he collected two impressive assists in the first eight minutes of the game. A sea of flashbulbs twinkled every time he made a corner kick. We even saw some ladies wearing only sports bras and the word “Beckham” written on their tummies!
It was clear fans weren’t there to see a competition; they were there to see a performance. And the funny thing was, it was an amazing soccer game — with nine goals scored and teams exchanging leads, it was a legitimate nail-biter. Yet with three minutes remaining and victory still up in the air, people in our section decided to devote their energy toward starting “the wave.” After the Red Bulls scored a minute later to dramatically take the lead, they tried again. Soccer, it was clear, wasn’t speaking their language. Perhaps fellow fan, Nutley, New Jersey, resident Gus Rachioppi said it best. He was wearing a Beckham jersey but explained that in his family’s home country of Argentina, he could never get away with it. What, we wondered, would happen if someone were to wear the opposing team’s colors? “They’d kill you,” he said. Makes sense. There, soccer means something. —Joe DeLessio