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Let’s talk (again!) about David Beckham and Major League Soccer’s apparent double standard

Jul 1, 2012, 2:15 PM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy v San Jose Earthquakes Getty Images

Major League Soccer’s next chance to duck and cover, to lamely hide from its responsibility and permit David Beckham carte blanche in breaking the rules at his pleasure is upon us.

So what if the man is frustrated over not being selected for Great Britain’s Olympic team? Life is full of disappointment, and if things never get any worse than this for Beckham, a man more fabulously blessed than almost every human being who has ever walked the Earth, then he should faithfully count his blessings each and every day.

And if the temperature went up on an MLS contest, one that wasn’t perhaps properly managed, well, we’ve got a word for that: we call it a “Saturday.”

MLS and U.S. Soccer finally, after years of stubbornly pretending there wasn’t a problem on overall match management and temperament, is trying to fix things. Still, it’s going to take time and further action. In the meantime, these hot-headed, action-packed and difficult-to-referee contests do happen, even in the best-officiated of leagues.

Teams and players just have to deal with it – and comport themselves better than Beckham did at Stanford Stadium last night, site of the latest code red contest.

It was San Jose’s enthralling 4-3 win over the Galaxy, a match that even most members of the losing side admitted was a memory maker and a hoot to be a part of.

Things unraveled in the end, and a lot is on Beckham – who lost his cool. It happens. It doesn’t make him a bad person.

But … he needs to be accountable.

He probably won’t be. We’ve seen it before; go back and check this one out, where the league demonstrated a clear double standard at work when it comes to Beckham and referee criticism.

Let me bust the mystery on that one: no action was taken.  Shocking, I know. We’ve seen it before with terrible tackles and other post-game incidents that came and went with impunity for the L.A. Galaxy’s No. 23. There are clearly different guidelines at work on action and consequence for the league’s highest paid man.

Long story short from Saturday, Beckham became frustrated when San Jose began delaying the match in its dying minutes. Beckham kicked not one, but two balls in the direction of referee Hilario Grajeda and a fallen San Jose Earthquakes’ player.

ESPN L.A. has a fairly detailed account of that bit of naughtiness and the ensuing pushing, shoving and post-game histrionics – a bunch of boyish silliness that the former England captain, a veteran and leader, should be diffusing, not initiating.

So, we’ll see.

While we wait on any potential league action, consider that:

  • The league suspended Galaxy teammate Mike Magee earlier this year for throwing a ball in the direction of referee Silviu Petrescu in the Galaxy’s loss at Houston.
  • The league suspended New York’s Rafa Marquez three games during last year’s playoffs for throwing a ball at Landon Donovan, initiating a full (and rather comedic, in retrospect) post-game donnybrook. Marquez missed the teams’ following playoff contest.
  • The league suspended FC Dallas’ Brek Shea for three games earlier this year for kicking a ball at a linesman.

The Marquez and Shea tosses and kicks were more egregious; Beckham’s double kick in the direction of the San Jose player and Grajeda don’t perhaps rise to that level, although his provocative post-game conduct ups the stakes.

Beckham will miss at least one match; the caution issued from Grajeda put him over the limit for yellow card accumulation; The Galaxy can’t be too happy about that one, since the L.A. playmaker will miss a match this week in addition to whatever time off he might request later this month for ceremonial Olympic participation.