Just got off the phone with Alecko Eskandarian, former United forward, who is actually in Southern California at the same time Beckham mania is breaking out. (If you're from Holland or Finland or whatever and are just trying to see what the crazy Yanks think about Becks, Esky was a former star forward and fan favorite for D.C. United who was traded to Toronto this offseason.) He was over at the Home Depot Center today, with the TV trucks, and he chatted with some guys on the Galaxy about Becks. Some were very excited, Esky reported. Some were more reserved.
(If you didn't know, after the season Esky learned he had been playing the last month or two of the year with a torn meniscus, so he had surgery five days ago and will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks. He has to miss U.S. national camp, which he said "totally sucks," but he should be ready for the start of the MLS season.)
Anyhow, here were Esky's thoughts on Becks. Some will even be in the paper tomorrow.
"The first thing that jumped out at me was the figure he was making," Esky said. "I mean, that's unbelievable. It's exciting to see that MLS has that type of money, I guess.....I really think it's good for the league as far as exposure. Even if it means there's going to be thousands more 13-year-old girls at the game just coming to watch him, it's still putting fans in the seats. It's a good thing all around, I guess."
On the financial imbalance of such a huge salary: "As much as I'm all for the exposure, I feel like if they have all this money they could divvy up some of it, especially for some of the younger players with developmental contracts. It's really not fair what they make. To think that one guy could make more in one day of practice than some guys make for a whole year of effort is pretty shocking."
On the future: "Hopefully there will be a ripple effect of more big-time players coming to this league, which is going to be great. That's obviously the goal. Obviously the media frenzy will be huge. This is news that will be heard all over the world, and that's nothing but good for the MLS. Hopefully the league will grow in quality and in money, and everybody will be happy."
People from Holland or Finland or whatever, you can stop reading now.
DCU people, read on. See, I hadn't talked to Esky since the trade, and I needed to get his take. Turns out he's never been to Toronto in his life, although he'll be heading there in a few weeks. As you'll recall from Goff's story, his initial reaction was shock. Three weeks later, he's still shocked.
"To be honest, it hasn't sunk in that I'm not going to be [in D.C.]," he said. "But it's a business, man. There's no guarantees with this job. I knew that when I got in."
He was sort of choosing his words carefully, which is unusual for Esky, because he said he has no enemies at DCU and wants to keep it that way, doesn't want to burn any bridges. But he said he thought D.C. had "the best team in the league by far last year," which is why he didn't necessarily agree with the decision to break up the club.
"That's pro sports, though, that's pro sports," he said. "It happens everywhere. It doesn't really happen too much in MLS; that's why it was shocking."
I've gotten lots of e-mails and have had several conversations with fans since the trade, fans who were ok with all the personnel moves in this crazy offseason but just felt sorta sad to say goodbye to Nick Rimando, and especially to Esky. Alecko said DCU fans have left messages on his Facebook and his MySpace pages, assuring him that they would continue to be his fans no matter what color he's wearing. Here were his unprompted thoughts on the matter:
"It's tough, dude, because I really, really fell in love with D.C.," he said. "D.C.'s been my home for the last four years. I was very, very comfortable living there. I made a lot of friends. Most importantly, the fans. It's sad. The fans were so good to me, they were awesome. It's definitely going to be tough leaving that, day in and day out. I'm definitely looking forward to coming back and giving a tribute to the fans. It's definitely not something I wanted, but at the end of the day, it's a good opportunity for me to challenge myself as a player, get in a new situation where maybe I'll be looked at as a leader. Over here I was kind of just looked at as a piece of the puzzle."
He said he'll applaud for the fans when he comes back, will thank them for all their support. No 'Tino displays, he promised. He said it'll be weird to face his former teammates, that he'll probably be "giddy and laughing" when he first takes the field. He said the whole thing will be emotional. I asked about facing off against Bobby Boswell.
"I already told him--I don't know if you can write this," Esky said. "I already told him I'm gonna make him my [nope, can't write it]. He said something like, he's just going to punch me in the head. It's going to be funny. It's going to be interesting. I actually love playing against Bobby. I don't know how much he loves playing against me, but I actually love playing against Bobby. Its going to be a good battle, that's for sure."
Needless to say, this won't be the last you'll hear from Esky in this space.