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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

June 06, 2007|GRAHAME L. JONES

1 With David Beckham scheduled to touch down in Los Angeles a little more than five weeks from now, the Galaxy is learning that the worldwide publicity Beckham's signing has generated can be a two-edged sword.

Or, as England's Guardian newspaper put it in a Tuesday headline, "Reality Bites for Big-Talking Galaxy."

The column pointed out that Beckham, who will play for England in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia today, is coming to a team that "is playing with the worst lineup in the club's 12-year history" and has won only one of seven MLS games.

"That Beckham would come to a team at, or close to, the bottom of the league was most certainly not in the marketing plan," the column stated. "In fact it seems like constructing a decent team overall wasn't much part of any plan at all. While L.A. rushed around looking for new shirt sponsors and priming themselves for the role of superclub ... they forgot to put together a footballers' collective capable of beating the likes of the Colorado Rapids."

2 After today's game for England, Beckham rejoins Real Madrid for its last two games of the Spanish season, knowing that a victory at Real Zaragoza on Saturday and a home win over Mallorca the following weekend would clinch the club's first league championship since 2003 and its 30th overall.

Barcelona and Sevilla have the chance to overtake Real Madrid if it stumbles, but defending champion Barcelona was not helped this week when Brazil Coach Dunga said Ronaldinho, Barcelona's top scorer with 20 goals, "lacks pace at present" and "has to train more" to regain top form. Ronaldinho is suspended for Barcelona's match against Espanyol on Saturday.

3 Splashing out the kind of money that MLS can only dream about, Liverpool's North American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, have signed two of the club's key players to extended four-year contracts worth a combined $88 million.

Midfielder Steven Gerrard's weekly salary will jump to $240,000 while defender Jamie Carragher will be making $160,000 a week under contracts that will keep both England internationals with Liverpool through 2011.

4 The Chicago Fire is in talks with former Chilean international striker Marcelo "El Matador" Salas, while Chivas USA is deciding whether it will pursue current Mexico international Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista.

Salas, 32, who starred for Chile in the 1998 World Cup in France and later played for Lazio and Juventus in Italy, was given a two-day tryout by the Fire, which this year signed Mexican international Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

Bautista, 28, has been told by Chivas de Guadalajara, where he won a Mexican league title in 2006, that he is no longer needed after falling out with Coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre over his performance in this year's playoff semifinal series loss to Club America.

Jorge Vergara, who owns Chivas de Guadalajara and is co-owner of Chivas USA, has said Chivas USA would have first choice in signing Bautista, but the player's agent is trying to find him a European team.

5 Former U.S. national team assistant coach and MLS head coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick, who died in October at age 51 after suffering a heart attack, was honored Tuesday when the main training field used by all U.S. men's and women's national teams at the Home Depot Center was named in his honor.

"Naming this field after Mooch is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the development of the sport in our country," said Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer.

--GRAHAME L. JONES

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