Beckham Makes Big Apple Debut

The winner was scored by Angel. Red Bull's other two were netted by the 17-year-old American Jozy Altidore. A broad and dangerous striker, he is featured with global superstar Ronaldinho and Guillermo Ochoa on the cover of this year's FIFA 2008 soccer video game, and has quickly established himself as the future best boy of American soccer. The irony, of course, is that he will likely go to Europe to play ball in the coming years.

Still, the night belonged to Beckham. His team's 5-4 defeat could hardly shake the shine off his postgame smile. "Goldenballs" came to America to put on a show, and for at least 90 minutes, proved every bit the hero that the Anschutz Group had him pegged as when they agreed to his quarter-billion dollar contract.

"I haven't been involved in a game like that since I was 9 or 10 years old," Beckham said after the nine-goal extravaganza.

Granted, he probably hasn't faced such inept defense and goalkeeping since that earlier time, but those dark conclusions seemed miles from his perfectly shorn blond head. Like a true entertainer, he was more focused on the adoring crowd.

"Tonight, I have to say thank you to the people who paid money," Beckham said. "They got to see a sport I consider the best in the world."

If any of the matches in the remaining schedule can come close to equaling the excitement and competition on display Saturday night, at least a few more Americans are sure to come around to the Briton's way of thinking.

As for at least one jolly English ex-pat in the crowd, the evening of Aug. 18, 2007, brought to mind a game played in the Scottish Second Division on April 22, 1964. The final in that affair was, like Saturday, 5-to-4.

The teams were Forfar and East Fife. Forfar had the 5, East Fife had the 4. Again, that's "Forfar 5, East Fife 4." You may not have known that story until now. The same could be said for soccer in America.

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