•’The Beckham Experiment:’ Pass or fail?
Mentioned prominently in Grant Wahl’s new book “The Beckham Experiment” are three current members of Seattle Sounders FC: coach Sigi Schmid, defender Patrick Ianni, and especially, veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas.
None had read the book from cover to cover early this week as they began training for their Saturday date in Los Angeles against the Galaxy and David Beckham. However, Vagenas said the author sent him a copy and he is aware of what was written.
Schmid said he spoke with Wahl and therefore wasn’t surprised to be included. And while Ianni didn’t know he was in the book, he sure remembers the incident mentioned.
Here are those Sounders’ highlights from the book and their reactions (which have been edited for space and clarity):
Mentioned: 40 pages
Context one: Soon after signing, Beckham presented his teammates with fancy red invitations to attend a VIP party that would also include actors Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. The next day, Vagenas distributed similar invitations, jokingly inviting the team to “the castle for wizardry and sorcery” where live chickens would be served.
Reaction: “Ever since I was a 20-year-old rookie hesitant about approaching (Galaxy teammate and former UCLA legend) Cobi Jones, I haven’t really had a problem with what the name on the back of the jersey of someone is. And you can tell right off the bat with David that he’s one of the guys, he wants to be one of the guys. And regardless of how he’s (portrayed) in the media or how the media wants to perceive him, he’s fair game just like anyone else in the locker room.”
Context two: When the Galaxy’s season hit the skids, the locker room seems to divide between the Beckham faction and those loyal to general manager Alexi Lalas. Coach Ruud Gullit assumes Vagenas to be a Lalas loyalist and benches him.
Reaction: “I am partial to Galaxy people. The spirit of what (Lalas) brought to that team kind of carried us along. (CEO) Tim Leiweke has gone to hell and back for the Galaxy; you can’t say it’s his fault. David has shouldered not only the Galaxy but the entire league; you can’t point at it as his fault. Landon is arguably the best player on that team; you can’t put it on his shoulders. So it was just one of those things where the tide sort of went the wrong way. Unfortunately, we weren’t big enough to rectify the situation when it was happening.”
Mentioned: Three pages
Context: Schmid never coached Beckham, but Wahl portrays him as someone who knows soccer and as the guy in charge when the franchise was successful.
Reaction: “He told me he had written the book. I asked him, ‘Is it going to be interesting?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ But I haven’t read it. I figured Pete Vagenas could give me the blow-by-blow, the actual verbal description. I’m pushing for a free copy.”
Mentioned: Two pages
Context: When Ianni played for Houston, Donovan celebrates a Galaxy goal by standing over his fallen opponent and barking “like Muhammad Ali looming over a beaten Sonny Liston.”
Reaction: “I definitely remember that. Yeah, definitely (took offense). I know for him it was in a competitive spirit, that’s how we are: Sometimes our emotions get the best of us on the field. But to embarrass me like that was uncalled for, and I think he knows that. There was an incident early in the game where he feels I bumped him real hard. I think he embellished that. But I’m looking forward to this weekend.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808