The Sounders didn't train Wednesday, so I spent much of the day -- the non-USA-Mexico part -- writing for the Thursday paper on Grant Wahl's book, "The Beckham Experiment."
I read the book while traveling last week and noticed that three current Sounders are mentioned: coach Sigi Schmid, defender Patrick Ianni, and especially veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas, who emerges as one of Wahl's go-to guys for quotes. Wahl comments more than once on Vagenas' intellectual and dry sense of humor.
I talked to all three at training on Tuesday, and none had read the book from cover to cover. However, Vagenas said Wahl sent him a copy and that he is aware of what was written. Schmid said 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, and their reactions (which have been edited for space and clarity):
Mentioned: 40 pages.
Context: 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."
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 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."
Naturally, while the Sounders stuff may be most interesting to Sounders fans, the part of the book that has gotten the most attention nationally is Landon Donovan's criticism of Beckham as an unworthy captain, a bad teammate and a guy who doesn't like picking up checks.
Vagenas spoke in considerable detail about that -- far more than I could get in the newspaper. But I wanted to present that entire portion of our converation here:
"I think what people need to understand is that the quote-unquote 'negative parts' of the book are more or less commonplace in professional sports in terms of the locker room dynamics of a professional team.
"If you wanted to put a microscope under myself, for example, and follow my professional relationships with teammate A, B, C and D, I'm sure worse things would come out than what came out in that book between David and Landon. Because he's David and there is that intense microscope, everything is sifted through, analyzed and examined, and it's tough. I dare anyone to allow them to be exposed like that.
"But at the same time, they're all my friends. I respect all of them from Tim Leiweke, Alexi Lalas on down. For me, I am partial to Galaxy people. So that includes Tim Leiweke, that includes Alexi, that includes Landon, that includes David. I think if you asked all of them if we had a chance to redo that time, we would probably do things a bit differently. But at the same time, that's professional sports and if people don't think there are dynamics like that that exist in every locker room of every professional sports team throughout the country then they're being a bit naive.
"I think Landon regrets handling it the way he handled it, because his opinion is his opinion and there are those that disagree with him and there are those that agree with him. But I think the one thing that has rung true is Landon was regretful about what he said months and months before the book came out. And that's something that him and David I'm sure have hashed out by now and sort of left in the past."