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Dear Alexi: Could You Please Get Zidane Too?

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Alexi Lalas
President and General Manager
Los Angeles Galaxy

Dear Alexi:

I've gotta hand it to you. You are indeed the man. Landing David Beckham is a much bigger deal than any of your fellow MLS owners will ever acknowledge, because they're all steamed that they couldn't pull it off first. The man is the biggest brand in international sports, without a doubt, and his made-for-the-highlight-reel penalty and free kicks are just what the sound bite addicted American populace needed to draw a few more fans to MLS stadiums. And I'm doing my part. Not only am I going to run right down to the Fashion District today and buy myself a knockoff Beckham jersey (kidding), but I'm definitely going to make the haul down to Carson to catch at least two or three Galaxy games this season (not kidding).

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But I tell you what, Alexi. If you follow through on your earlier efforts and land Zinedine Zidane, I will hop on the telephone immediately and buy a pair of season tickets to the Galaxy. I've always like Beckham. Even though he's never been the fastest footballer around, his leadership and precision passing always made Manchester United games fun to watch. But Zidane is the player who turned me from a casual observer of the sport into a downright enthusiast. He's also the greatest player of this generation.

The 1998 World Cup was my soccer fan coming out party. Up to that point, the only soccer I watched was the occasional Manchester United match. I knew the United players, I knew a couple of global stars like Ronaldo, and I knew the players on the U.S. team (including you in goatee form, Alexi). But watching Zidane lead his French team to the World Cup title over the heavily favored Brazilians finally opened my eyes to why this is the world's most popular sport.

Photo by tuxinyue_cd via Flickr

I always had my issues with soccer, and unlike many Americans, the low scores weren't part of the problem. Because I also watched hockey, I could see the beauty in a game that ended 1-0. However, what always bugged me was the flopping. You know what I mean. When a soccer player gets bumped, he crumples down onto the ground in mock anguish, at which time he is hauled off the field on a stretcher, only to return to the game three minutes later. It always made the game reek of a certain kind of cowardice, especially considering how those Aussie rules football guys were pounding each other to death. Maybe it's just me. That's why I often enjoyed watching the big, burly Germans manhandle other teams in World Cup play, or some of the better African nations kicking the crap out of people's ankles. I kind of felt the floppers deserved it for their bad acting. But Zizou was never a dive artist. In addition to being one of the most skilled players in the game, he was also always one of its toughest.

There are younger, more routinely worshipped players today, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and (of course) Ronaldinho, but does anyone doubt that if Zidane "un-retired" and stepped onto the field tomorrow he wouldn't still be one of the five best players in the world? We're talking about they guy who was the undisputed leader on a team referred to as "Los Galacticos" that included Beckham, Raul, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo. Holy crap!

Remember, with the MLS' Designated Player Rule, you're allowed to sign two players with salaries above the $2.4 million cap. Beckham is one, but there's still room for one more. You wouldn't even be the only team in MLS to use the rule on two players (New York already did with Claudio Reyna and Juan Pablo Angel). Wouldn't it be worth it on the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year? Last we heard, you had put an offer out to Zidane and he was "considering it." You were quoted as saying you hoped Beckham, Zizou's former Real Madrid teammate, would be helpful in convincing him to make the move. We haven't heard a peep about a possible Zidane signing since.

Well, Backham's here now. So please, get him on a three-way conference call and get Zidane out here, now!