MONTREAL – The Olympic Stadium was rocking, the LA Galaxy were down 1-0, and the Montreal Impact players, who were starting to feel their legs a bit, were looking to kill the game against the defending MLS Cup champions before it was too late.
The Impact’s Felipe Martins received the ball left of center and bursted into the penalty box, looking to play in teammates. He dribbled past Daniel Keat and evaded a David Beckham challenge before settling on the left of the area, but Juninho had seen enough. He aggressively closed down Felipe and clipped him, earning a yellow card in the process.
At that point, Beckham made it clear that Felipe had indeed gotten under his skin. As the Brazilian rolled on the turf, Beckham bent over and got into Felipe’s face before being quickly dragged away by Lamar Neagle and teammate Mike Magee.
“I didn’t understand a thing he said,” Felipe unconvincingly said after the game before bursting out laughing.
While the Brazil native still speaks little English, he understands the language well. Were Beckham’s words harsh? Felipe’s amusement suggests they were indeed and that Beckham’s reaction was likely a bonus symptom of Felipe’s hard work during the Impact’s 1-1 draw against the Galaxy.
At times, the Impact’s No. 7 seemed to stick to Beckham like Red Grant to James Bond, tracking him down wherever he went. It was only fitting that Beckham’s yellow at the 54th minute was for a foul on Felipe.
“Beckham is an important player, and my job was to deny him space, which he didn’t like much,” Martins said. “But I had this task of closing him down and he didn’t enjoy the pressure.”
But, as the Greece team of 2001 can attest, Beckham does not really mind the pressure when standing over a dead ball. It proved to be the case again on Saturday as the Impact, unable to nail their opponents’ coffin, fell victim to yet another outstanding Beckham free kick.
While one could think this was Beckham’s only worthy contribution on the day, his presence was felt throughout.
“We put a heavy emphasis on keeping track of [Beckham] during the game, because they look to play with him often and he only needs an inch to get a ball into dangerous spots,” Montreal head coach Jesse Marsch told reporters after the game. “He still caused us so much trouble in the game.”