Get ready for Becks

Posted on 16 July 2009 by arozsa

Sure, I could take the high road.

I could take a critical, thoughtful look at Thursday night’s MLS match-up between New York and Los Angeles and talk about lineups and tactics. I could compare and contrast Juan Carlos Osorio’s methods and signings with those of his predecessor Bruce Arena, who coincidentally will be prowling the opposite sideline tomorrow night.

Reams of virtual pages could be filled with chatter about the abrasive and sarcastic Long Island native, and how after being jettisoned from the East Coast he quickly built a team around former regular and fringe U.S. internationals that was capable of grinding out results while missing the best two players in the league. Arena’s team would certainly make for an interesting study in juxtaposition with Osorio’s squad of third rate internationals.

However, as any of my old college professors would certainly attest to if prompted, I’m not here to take the high road.

Listen: The New York Red Bulls are in the midst of an 11 game league winless streak. They are about to embark on what is sure to be a comprehensively embarrassing journey in the CONCACAF Champions League. Every single member of the organization; coaches, players, trainers, baggage handlers etc, are rightfully questioning whether or not they’ll be around to see that beautiful new facility in Harrison. Before now, when people told you that the MLS season was meaningless, they never used to really mean it.

The fact is, the season can’t end soon enough.

Now before you close your browser in disgust, let me stress that I will also not be taking a trip through the gutter, either. If you’re interested in hearing more about the limp-wristed slap fight that is the Donovan-Beckham saga, I suggest you tune in to the E! Channel.

No, I’m here to talk about something entirely different.

Many, many years ago, back in August of 2007, when a young Jozy Altidore still roamed the confines of Giants Stadium and Juan Pablo Angel had the all the exuberance of a man that didn’t look like he needed a hip replacement, a game was played. But it wasn’t just any game; it was one of the caliber that immediately demanded its transcription into the thin ledger of MLS lore.

I remember. I was there.

There were only two things fuller than the stands that night: the press box, and my stomach after the complimentary media lounge buffet (Meal tickets? Not while Team Beckham is in town). The on-field product didn’t disappoint either, as we all remember.

But get this. Here’s what made the biggest impression on me that night: even though the 60,000 plus in the crowd that night was heavily augmented by screaming Beatlemaniacs and schoolboys providing free Herbalife adverts, something incredible happened. Something unexpected. Something decisively “New York.”

They booed Beckham. They did it roughly a year and a half before most of America discovered what a tool-bag he was. And when the Red Bulls prevailed at the end, that hatred and spite, that which can only be spawned from sitting for an hour on the GW Bridge or from sardine-can rides on the 7 train, turned into pure, unadulterated rapture.

If the Red Bulls are to salvage anything from this season, if they are to identify with the fans in this area before their move to the shiny new palace along the Path, it’s not going to come from watching the exquisite technique of Khano Smith, or the sparkling can-do attitude of Jorge Rojas.

New Yorkers (and New Jersians) love nothing more than beating a villain. Come Thursday night, they’ll have their chance to do it again. And if they succeed, maybe the season won’t seem like such a lost cause after all.

If only for a little while.

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