His son had a trial at Chelsea. The 13-year-old played for the U14 team at the top London club and duly sparked headlines on lots of sports pages –international football will maybe soon have a second Beckham in its ranks. With February almost upon us, his famous dad, David, is still to decide his future. Dubai has tried to entice him. After taking over as technical director of the Al Nasr club, the former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson has set his sights on convincing the midfielder to join the club. The Swede wants to lure Beckham to the United Arab Emirates. “I’ll be talking to him. But I don’t know where he’ll eventually end up,” said Eriksson in the third January week.
“Becks” has also been linked with a move to AC Milan. It was where he had two high-profile loan periods in 2009 and 2010 when the American MLS professional league had its December to March off-season. But Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is intent on reducing the average age of the squad at the leading Italian club. A 37-year-old therefore wouldn’t fit in – even when it’s a superstar like Beckham. The former world class player, who turned out for Manchester United, Real Madrid and the English national team, feels he is still fit enough to carry on playing for another one or two years. It means he is a much coveted player within football’s international transfer markets.
Currently, the Major League Soccer (MLS) is preparing for the 2013 campaign. After six seasons playing for Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham left the league in December 2012 having won his second championship title with the club. Immediately afterwards it was reported that AS Monaco, who have dropped down to the French second division, were interested in signing Beckham. Interest in signing Beckham is also said to have been shown by clubs in Australia, China, Russia, Brazil and Scotland.
Beckham, who had played his part in making the league more popular, was thanked by the MLS. The experience near Hollywood ended for Beckham after five and a half years with two titles, three appearances in the final, 115 games, 18 goals and 48 assists. The average crowd has risen in the past few years from about 10,000 to 20,000 and the number of clubs has been raised to 19. “I hope I’ve given the MLS something. The league is so good it’ll do very well without me too,” said Beckham after his club’s 3-1 win in the final against Houston Dynamo.
Even without the Englishman, the MLS is in the throes of preparing for the new season which begins on 2 March. Philadelphia versus Sporting Kansas City, the all-Canadian encounter between Vancouver and Toronto, Houston versus DC United, Dallas versus Colorado, Seattle versus Montreal and Chivas USA against Columbus Crew are the fixtures scheduled for the opening day. One day later on 3 March, champions Los Angeles will meet Chicago Fire, Portland will take on New York and San Jose Earthquakes, who were the best team in the regular season in 2012, will face Real Salt Lake.
Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy captain who previously played in Europe for Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Everton, will be 31 on 4 March. The midfielder, who is also an enormously important member of the United States national team under German coach Jürgen Klinsmann, was allowed to take a longer break. Galaxy’s pre-season training began at the end of January but Donovan has been given more time off by coach Bruce Arena. He needed a long break after a very arduous 2012 said Arena, the former US national coach. "But Landon will definitely be back playing for us this year,” stressed the coach. The contract with Irishman Robbie Keane has been extended though Galaxy made no mention of just how long the contract with the former top striker from Tottenham will now run.
As for the Brazilian Juninho, the Californians have come to a new agreement with his former club Sao Paulo. Juninho had previously been loaned to the club but now has a permanent contract in Los Angeles. Forwards Keane and Juninho both play a key role in Galaxy’s hopes of winning the title for the third time in succession at the end of the year.
Like the other clubs, Los Angeles began their pre-season training camp on 21 January, four days after the current year’s “drafts” had been finalised on 17 January. As the champions, Galaxy was the last in line of the clubs to sign up the best young prospects from the colleges in the first round of the draft. After their first pick, the 19 clubs had a second chance at the MLS SuperDraft. A four-round draft in Indianapolis then took place via a telephone conference on 22 January. From 11 to 15 January, the MLS had concentrated their scouting efforts the MLS Player Combine event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when four teams of college players trained and played matches. Though renowned foreign stars come to the MLS, it’s the young home-grown players from USA and Canada that ultimately form the league’s vital fundament. The new pros will be able to prove their worth in the pre-season friendlies.