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Touching Greatness: Beckham Capers

Basking in the brilliant glint that still reflects from the sweaty Beckham torso, all while wearing my wristband from the afterparty, after a night D.C. soccer will never forget. At least for the next two weeks, until Jozy Altidore arrives and the local media go crazy again. Right?

Rod Dyachenko's touch of greatness occurred two hours before gametime, when he and several of his teammates--including goal scorer Luciano Emilio--were unable to pull into the players' parking lot because of the security detail surrounding the Beckham bus.

"The [security] dude that I've known for, what, like two years now? That looks at me every game day, like, 'Hey, what's up,' with a little friendly [fist] bump? The same dude looked at me, he was like, 'hold up!'" Dyachenko told me. "It got a little crazy. They forgot about the other team, you know?"

Ben Olsen's touch of greatness came after the match. Becks wandered his way around the field, accepting brief greetings from various United players, until finally Olsen approached and offered to exchange jerseys, allowing TV viewers to see the naked torso yet again. Olsen indicated the maneuver was not planned in advance.

"I saw him walking off, but he wasn't gonna get out of here unscathed," he told me. "It's just what you do. If someone asks you for your jersey, it's kind of an unwritten law: that's what you do."

I asked whether the Beckham jersey would wind up on the eBays, but Olsen emphatically said no.

"You could never do that," he said. "If you trade a jersey, you don't sell it. You keep them for your kids. Some guys hang them up; I kind of have them all just in a box in the attic."

So is Becks heading for the attic? Well, possibly, depending on Olsen's significant other.

"My wife was pretty upset that I washed it," he told me. "Do you believe that? The first thing my wife and my sister said was, 'You didn't wash it, did you?' I went, 'What kind of sickos are you?' I can't believe the impact this guy has on women. They just change, man; they change into animals."

(Turns out Olsen may not have actually made a full exchange. This video shows Olsen still wearing black and red, and Beckham without any United jersey in hand.)

Bobby Boswell's touch of greatness came later in the night, when his was one of three MLS after-parties at downtown clubs. Teammate Marc Burch went to Boswell's party at Lima, and also to the party at Play Lounge for the Galaxy, the party featuring a smidgen of Beckham.

"Completely different," Burch said of the gatherings. The Galaxy get-together "wasn't really like a party; just kind of a place for them to come and hang out if they could. Bobby's was just an awesome bash."

Nevertheless, Boswell reported a night full of putting out social fires, trying to get VIP bracelets in the right hands and on the right wrists, and attempting to play the proper host.

"It was a nightmare," he said. "It was an experience, a learning experience, the whole party process. I don't think I'll be doing that, probably ever again, unless I make a ton of money. And then I would just give it to somebody to do that for me so I wouldn't have to deal with it, you know what I mean? It's got to be so nice to just be like, 'Hey, here's 10 G's, throw me a party. All you have to do is show up."

But surely, I said, there must be some thrill in being the center of social celebrity superstardom, a la Becks.

"I don't think you're a celebrity if you have to throw the party, and security stops you, and they have to have people be like, 'He's the one throwing the party,' you know what I mean?" Boswell said.

Fair point. Although Boswell's white blazer still made him a celebrity-like figure, to my way of thinking.

But my favorite touch of greatness came from D.C. United Equipment Manager Francisco Tobar. After the game, while in the normal course of his duties, Tobar saw two guys carrying a cooler who were attempting to get into the Galaxy locker room. The two guys told security that they were bringing in Gatorade for the Galaxy, but when security opened the cooler, there was nothing inside. The guys were escorted away. Strange, right?

Several hours later, with only a few employees and media members left in the RFK, Tobar was heading for the visitors' laundry room. The Galaxy have another match this weekend, and their kits were in the wash; Tobar wanted to throw them in the dryers before he left for the night. But now, in the hallway, he passed one of the Gatorade kids again. That was odd, he thought. Then he got to the laundry room, where the door was closed. Also odd. He opened the door, and two other kids were rifling through the wet Galaxy laundry. They turned and stared at Tobar.

"Their eyes were as big as the lights out there," he told me. "It was then when I realized, 'Wait a minute, something really bad is going on here.'"

Yes, that's right, a gang of hooligans was attempting to steal David Beckham's wet laundry!!!! There was a brief scuffle at the door of the laundry room. The two guys got away from Tobar and took off down an RFK passageway. Tobar began screaming for back-up and took off, sprinting after the would-be thieves. He was joined by Operations Manager and fellow hero Jason Amaguana, who radioed for security as he and Tobar blazed through the stadium's underbelly. A third brave hero, Assistant Equipment Manager David Brauzer, ran up to the field level, searching for the would-be crooks.

Eventually Tobar was summoned to a security gate, where he saw three of the would-be robbers who had been apprehended, including the Gatorade guy. Two more would-be bandits were spotted leaving the stadium. They had somehow made off with a Landon Donovan jersey, a Kelly Gray jersey, some shorts, some socks, some undershorts, and some compression shorts, which were all returned to their rightful dryers. No Becks apparel, though. He had apparently given it all away.

"Little did they know, there was nothing of Beckham's," Tobar told me. "They could have looked all day."

Tobar and crew ended up at the stadium at least 90 minutes longer than expected. They missed a great deal of the after-party scene, but as far as I'm concerned, they earned a great grab of Beckham greatness.

"I was just happy," Tobar said, "that we could finally catch the bad guys."

[Other notes: Ben Olsen now calls Dyachenko "Bullet Tooth Tony," in honor of the character from "Snatch." Dyachenko reports that the rest of his teammates call him "Dadachenko," a name coined by Santino Quaranta.

Also, Olsen had his own thoughts about last night.

"I had a great time," he said. "I always have a great time when we win. To play in front of 46 [thousand] in this stadium; rarely do you get 46,000 people cheering for your team. Yeah, they were there to see Beckham and they applauded Beckham--they wanted to experience that--but these are people from D.C., you know? Forty-six thousand people from the area that are still cheering for the home team.

"I've been to so many of these events where there's 46,000 in the stadium and 30,000 of them are booing us. To look at that whole side, the Screaming Eagles, the Barra Brava, just extended the whole way, in unison? It was beautiful, really a special night for D.C. United. If you can't appreciate that, you've got some deep-seated hatred of life."]

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 10, 2007; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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