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Esky Weighs In on Becks

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."

Josh Gros probably will make less than Becks this season. Like, a lot less. But he can jump high. (Ted S. Warren - AP)

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."

Esky, saluting the fans. (AP)

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.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 11, 2007; 6:35 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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That's the aspect of the Beckham deal that bothers me: he's going to get millions, while developmental players are living off of ramen and working another job?

MLS has to increase the minimum salary as soon as it possibly can. They're expanding the salary cap apparently, but for whom? It can't just be to make room for the designated players, can it?

As for Esky, it's a shame that he's gone. It also sucks that he had been playing with that injury, though it does explain his struggles at the end of the season. The only way the move works for DC is that they bring in a guy that you can bet the house on scoring 15+ goals. You're not just replacing a striker, you're replacing one of the biggest personalities in the entire league. I can't expect a new forward to care so much (at least, not right away), so he's got to score more often to make up for it.

I'm also not surprised that Esky will be as happy to see us fans as we are to see him (unlike Quaranta, whose actions were as confusing as they were tasteless). Esky is brash and blunt, but he also is the kind of guy that knows who's on his side and is very loyal. I'm sure the trade is going to eat at him for some time, but he's not going to blame the players or fans.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | January 11, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Great to hear from Esky. I'm looking forward to my "golfing buddy's" return to RFK next season.

Is LaCa getting as much exposure as you today? If not, I'm going to go post on his blog.....I don't feel comfortable with these 300 other posts.

Posted by: Kim | January 11, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

It's great that Esky developed such an attachment to DC. He was originally very upset to be coming here instead of Jersey.

Posted by: Dave Lifton | January 11, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd take Esky over Beckham in my club any day :)

Posted by: Srdan LaBarra | January 11, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear from Esky. I know I will miss seeing him on the field in black and red this season.

Posted by: Kinney | January 11, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I've been to Toronto. Esky, if you are reading this, the summer up there is a lot like those UVa Novembers. And get the heck out of Dodge before winter rolls around.

Posted by: FS | January 11, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I do enjoy a good Esky.

Posted by: Marc | January 11, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Has Marc Fisher's head exploded yet?

Posted by: Eric | January 11, 2007 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Esky. I miss him already. Sucks about the knee, but I'm glad he's gotten it sorted out now.

Posted by: Emily | January 12, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Esky will be missed...and it says a lot when players comment they have made such a connection with the fans. How many other players can say that about their team, in any sport. We have something special with this team...let's hope we never lose it.

Posted by: Tom | January 12, 2007 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Ah, jeeziz. Here I was, hoping to see some more sterile debate on the Beckham thing. Turns out my boy is baring his soul and being real respectful of the DCU fan base.

Esky, we all love you and we wish you nothing but the best in your life and your career. Get well soon and enjoy your adventures.

Posted by: Dan | January 12, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Shame about the knee and missing the NT duty. Get well soon.

Don't worry, for the 90 minutes or so when you play us, we'll give him the same kind of crap we gave 'Tino. After all, you he'll be on the other side. But I think we'll still respect and admire his accomplishmets once the whistle blows full-time.



ps. I've heard that the dancing in the Gentlemen's Clubs in Canada is called the "Canadian National Ballet"

Posted by: JayRockers! | January 12, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

It breaks my heart he's gone.

Posted by: Bootsy | January 12, 2007 2:16 AM | Report abuse

It's great to hear Alecko say some of the things he did ... top notch work Bogman

Posted by: littles | January 12, 2007 3:47 AM | Report abuse

Nice to hear Esky knows not to pull a "Tino". I'm really going to miss him and wish nothing but the best for him. On the flip side, he's gonna catch hell for 90 minutes when he gets back to RFK. After the whistle blows, I'll be first in line to buy him a beer though.

Posted by: DB | January 12, 2007 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update. We'll definitely miss Esky. Its nice to hear his feelings about DC & the fans.

Posted by: m | January 12, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

We'll definately miss Alecko. Thanks for the brewski's you bought for the Barra tailgate. Let's see Clinton Portis do that!

Posted by: Chico | January 12, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Since when are professional sports fair and equatable?

Not to be a damper on all the love, but the last thing MLS needs is someone pooh-pooing the Beckham deal. Sure, its a crapload of money, and its not fair to the developmental players, but so what? If it helps put fans in the seats and increases MLS' awareness among non-soccer-playing folks, then it's good for everyone. More fans means more money and higher salaries. He needs to remember that not so long ago there was no MLS...

As for the trade to Toronto, it totally sucks as I really liked watching him. But, have you ever been to Toronto? (I mean, the generic "you"...) It's an awesome and dynamic city. My wife and I are already planning to go up to catch some DCU away matches there.

Posted by: Dave | January 12, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Gonna miss Esky, big time. That guy rules. Still, the man is going to LOVE Toronto. If he's never been there, he's in for a treat - it's such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. For my part, it's number one on my road trip list this year.

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 12, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

My understanding of the Beckham thing is that there's been some confusion. MLS is, I beleive, only on the hook for either 12.5 or 25 mil. The rest id the value that Beckham gets back for his "name" rights. Madrid owned the right to sell his name for advertising and stuff like that. He's got that back now, and that's a huge chunk of change.

Esky's always going to be welcome back in DC. Hopefully one day he can buy the black and red back on.

Posted by: EricS | January 12, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Count me among the people saddened by the Esky and Rimando trades...

As far as Beckham: he's been overrated for years. It's been years, it seems, since his primary focus has been on his football. Frankly, he's probably more infamous for the shots he's missed lately than he is famous for his actual game-changing ability on the pitch.

That's not to say he's a terrible footballer, but Becks is now more "famous for being famous" than his actual merits.

Posted by: ouij | January 12, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Another bad break for Nicky Rimando - RSL used their draft pick on Maryland stud GK Chris Seitz.

If Nicky can't beat out Troy Perkins, how will he hold off the 'next' great American Keeper?

Posted by: Benny D | January 12, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Love the Bog...just caught on recently. thanks for all the DC United coverage.

How about a bit of love for the UMD picks in the MLS draft?

Posted by: adams morgan | January 12, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Like everyone else, Esky's departure breaks my heart. He's the reason I became a DCU fan, he's the reason I agreed to watch soccer at all. I still can't talk about the trade without flinging expletives and cursing the spiteful soccer gods. Esky, I'll miss you and DCU will never be the same for me. Looking forward to your bittersweet return.


Posted by: Blondie4DCU | January 12, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Will defintly miss Esky...he's a solid player and always respected the fans.

As far as Nicky is concerned, rumour is that Nicky could be on his way out of RSL in the not so distant future(Colorado, Columbus, New York?). Hope he hasn't done any house shopping.

Posted by: Steven(Rimando's Army) | January 16, 2007 12:02 AM | Report abuse

MLS is on the hook for 400K. The owners of the Galaxy are on the hook for several million more. Everything else is from endorsements, jersey sales, et al.

MLS is screwing nobody out of any money, at least not any more than they were already. That's the whole point of the Beck Rule exception.

Posted by: Sigh | January 18, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I always admired Esky's heart and passion for the game. He should be a postive addition to Toronto during their first year. I hope things work out for him as long as it does not happen against DC! I also look forward to seeing him on the national team.

Posted by: Mark | January 19, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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