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List of Americans Abroad

- It Seems To Me. . .-

Sunil Gulati and the road not taken.

New D.C. soccer stadium faces many obstacles.

Rongen faces obstacles in molding under-20 men.

Hunt will be remembered as just a regular guy.

Complications in coach selection process are of Gulati's own doing.

Nationality considerations present complications in expansion draft.

Myernick passing is tragedy for whole U.S. soccer family.

Gulati has tough task in finding replacement for Arena.

New FIFA rules could complicate MLS's future plans.

Memo to soccer haters: Just shut up!

Arena was not fired for failure, but need of new direction.

Conflicts between MLS, USSF best interests can hamper U.S. cause.

U.S. failure in World Cup is easy to understand -- other teams were better.

MLS ability to develop top players must be examined.

FIFA must examine World Cup policies.

Referees might have been harsh, but U.S. was not cheated against Italy.

Americans' only hope of advancement is winning two straight.

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The SoccerTimes Blog

It Seems To Me . . .

Demands for Beckham are growing to insane levels.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, June 8, 2007) -- The Los Angeles Galaxy has been waiting with baited breath for David Beckham to arrive to begin earning his $5.5 million annual playing salary and tens of millions more in endorsement deals as part of his five-year contract. However, on his way from his soon-to-be former club Real Madrid in Spain to the Galaxy home at The Home Depot Center, Beckham stopped off for a match at A Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, Estonia, and, in doing so, has raised a potentially huge problem for Major League Soccer and the Galaxy.

Beckham was in Estonia to represent England in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifying match after being recalled to his national team by mercurial coach Stephen Mclaren, whose relationship with the midfielder has not been the best, to say the very least. Beckham responded not only by assisting on two of England's three goals in the vital 3-0 victory, but by being the best player on the field for England. This makes it almost certain that he will be a part of the team as England tries to come from behind in Group E and qualify for next summer's European championship tournament.

England (4-1-2, 14 points) now sits in fourth place in the tightly bunched group, trailing Croatia (5-0-2, 17), Israel (5-1-2, 17) and Russian (4-0-3, 15 points). England is plus-10 in goal differential which makes it level with both Israel (which has played one more match than everyone else in the group) and Russia, but behind Croatia (plus-12). So things could not be tighter with the top two finishers advancing to the Round of 16.

The problem for MLS and the Galaxy is that four of England's remaining five qualifying matches conflict to some degree with L.A. league games, while the fifth takes place on the same day as MLS Cup 2007, should the Galaxy advance that far.

The Galaxy faces a torturous schedule with the league back-loading its schedule to allow Beckham to play in the most matches -- and make a visit to each of the other 12 MLS teams -- after his arrival in mid-July. The Galaxy is scheduled to play 12 road and five home games between July 31 and October 7 -- 17 games in 38 days -- including an exhibition against the second-division Vancouver Whitecaps, not to mention one or more matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as well as possibly one other exhibition.

Whew!

If, as it seems, Beckham has cemented his return to the England national team -- and if McLaren doesn't want to be lynched -- Beckham will be absent from MLS for the remainder of the Three Lions' Euro qualifying, raising two problems for the Galaxy and MLS.. England plays Israel on September 8, and Russia on September 12 and October 17. England also faces Estonia on October 13 and closes out qualifying on November 21 against Croatia.

L.A. has direct conflicts with a home match against the Colorado Rapids September 8 and Toronto FC October 13, not to mention the MLS Cup final on November 21. Technically, it is possible that Beckham could jump onto a private jet and be physically present when the Galaxy plays Chivas USA September 13, a day after England's home match with Russia, and when L.A. hosts the New York Red Bulls November 18, three days prior to England's home game with Croatia. McLaren, however, could prevent that latter scenario since he has the right, according to international rules, to summon Beckham five days before that game.

Of course, such a situation would put Beckham under and insane amount of pressure which really brings up the second and possibly more serious problem.

MLS is paying Beckham a huge salary not just to show up and walk through matches. It is paying him to be a world-class player in order to justify the tens of thousands of tickets sold specifically for the "Beckham Tour" of MLS cities, to say nothing of raising the visibility of the league around the world.

Add in five must-win international matches stretching from England's Wembley Stadium to Moscow to the already almost idiotic 17 MLS matches in 38 days. Then realize Beckham has been playing a key role with Real Madrid which, over this weekend and next, is embroiled in a two-way battle for the Spanish La Liga crown, leaving a severely abbreviated offseason. What is left for Beckham is soccer's version of Mission Impossible, especially for a 31-year-old player who has not been not been particularly durable in the past.

The bottom line is Beckham will require rest and any such break will come on MLS time, which would infuriate any fans who might be deprived of watching a payer they laid out big bucks to see. It's quite a quandary for MLS and the Galaxy and their response will be interesting.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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