By Maxi Rodriguez, writing from Los Angeles
It’s a cliché, especially in the sports world, to describe a certain “electricity in the air” surrounding a sporting event. Used to describe everything ranging from the enthusiasm that precedes a Vegas title fight, to the excitement that surrounds certain sports memorabilia conventions (I know, I don’t understand it either.), the idiom is a crutch for the generic sportswriter in the face of stifling deadlines. And yet, after deliberating for hours since the confirmation of David Beckham’s departure from the Los Angeles Galaxy, I’ve yet to come up with a more appropriate way to describe the collective current that passed through the Home Depot Center each time David Beckham touched the ball.
Straddling the border between suburban banality and industrial mire, the Home Depot Center was an odd place to find such a cosmopolitan figure. His time with the Galaxy was similarly at odds, riddled with flaws from the outset. In the early years, intrusive journalists and fragile egos resulted in less than adequate performances for the man charged with spreading the gospel of football to an unwilling nation. Even when the team had developed a certain harmony and success seemed assured, weak knees and a weaker back gave way to the occasionally listless performance.
Even this season, as the team pulled together after a difficult start and Beckham labored through the summer circuit with an atypical dedication, justifiable concerns over his relative contribution to the team mounted. The struggles should have diminished the aura that surrounded him, but even during the most difficult stretches, the indignation and the disgruntled editorials were always overwhelmed by a persistent sense of anticipation amongst the assembled crowd at the Home Depot Center.