CARSON, Calif. – Next to a table full of empty champagne bottles, the contents of which were now flooding the floor inside the L.A. Galaxy locker room, there was Cruz Beckham trying to egg on Christian Wilhelmsson.
"I can spin on my head," the 7-year-old dared. "Want to see?"
Cruz, wearing a pair of soccer cleats and a No. 23 Galaxy jersey with "Daddy" printed on the back, was keeping busy while waiting for his father to get out of the shower. Daddy had just spent the previous 89 minutes helping ignite a second-half rally that saw the Galaxy win the MLS Cup in a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dyanamo. It was Daddy's second straight championship with the Galaxy, this one coming in his last Major League Soccer game.
"Yeah, I want to see," Wilhelmsson said to Cruz.
Like a typical 7-year-old, Cruz changed his mind, too embarrassed to show off in front of a crowd.
He gets that from his daddy, who's always looking to pass. Like in the 64th minute of Saturday's final when he had a free kick deep inside Dynamo territory, the ball spotted at close enough range for him to drill a shot on goal that would have given the Galaxy a 2-1 advantage and provided him the perfect exclamation point to his six years in Los Angeles. But Daddy passed on the shot at glory, opting instead to bend a kick toward the box, where a scrum ensued and a flailing Ricardo Clark was whistled for a hand ball. That led to a Landon Donovan penalty kick to make it 2-1 Galaxy.
"I can do it," Cruz insisted, making sure Wilhelmsson knew he wasn't chickening out because he'd oversold himself.
Overselling, that's something Daddy had to deal with when he arrived in America at a reported cost of $250 million. Of course, his contract was never that big, and Daddy wasn't the one doing the selling; but his people were and so, by extension, he was the superstar selling himself to the highest bidder.
That painted a perception that not only was he a star bigger than the game he played, but he bought into his own hype, too. It didn't help matters when he got into it with home fans who booed him for taking leave in his third season. That only furthered the perception that his move to America was always about himself first.
"OK, I'm going to do it," Cruz said, determined to prove he could walk the talk.
After all, that's what Daddy did after seeing the sign calling him a fraud. He'd come to America with a five-year commitment, one he'd promised would be way more than just a few cameos a season. Eventually, that's exactly what he delivered, and then some. He played the entire 2011 season, helping the Galaxy to the MLS Cup, then signed on to play one more year.
On Saturday, the home crowd paid its respects by unrolling a sign with his likeness on it that read, "There's only one!" After the game, No. 23 walked toward that section of the stands and waved, thanking them for what they had done for him.
"I just hope people have enjoyed me playing here and watching me play for the Galaxy," Daddy said after the game. "It's what I always hope for when you step on the field, that people enjoy watching myself and watching the team that I play for."
[Video: Galaxy's crowning achievement]
Still waiting for his dad to come back from his shower, Cruz Beckham bandied about the locker room with his two older brothers, who were busy trying to get someone to spray a fully-clothed Brian Perk. When that didn't pan out, Cruz turned to his right and slid across the champagne-soaked floor where he stopped right in front of Wilhelmsson.
"I'm going to do it," he said.
And with that he bent down, all four-foot-nothing of him, planted his hands on the ground, kicked his feet in the air, lowered his head to floor and spun.
He delivered on his promise, just like Daddy, who a few minutes later emerged from the showers much to the delight of his three boys.
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