99 drops by to say hello to 23 - Edmonton Sun

Wayne Gretzky meets David Beckham in L.A.

By DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

LOS ANGELES — Word got out Becks wanted to meet The Great One.

So Wayne Gretzky obliged.

Last night Gretzky took in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s enthralling 5-2 victory over Chivas U.S. at the Home Depot Center and was impressed.

“He’s done great things for soccer in this area,” Gretzky said. “And my son who’s seven plays soccer. So we came down to meet him tonight. It was great.”

Gretzky sat in a box with actor Tom Cruise to take in the contest which saw American-born striker Landon Donovan steal the show, scoring three goals for the Galaxy. Gretzky won’t be in Edmonton on May 13th when the Galaxy take on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I won’t be there, but I think the people in Edmonton will love it,” he said. “I think Beckham is going great. It was a fun game to watch, I really enjoyed it. There is only a few athletes that have charisma. I don’t try to compare athletes. Tiger Woods as good as he is and Michael Jordan as good as he is, they have charisma. Beckham has charisma, whether you are a grandmother, a mother, wife, father or son. He has the charisma to draw you to the sport.”

So far 27,000 tickets have been sold for the game in Edmonton. Organizers are hoping to reach the 40,000 mark,

In Commonwealth Stadium 27,000 looks barren with little in the way of atmosphere, ambiance or emotion.

At 27,000 capacity, the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, was bursting at the seams with enough atmosphere, ambiance and emotion to rival any mid-sized soccer club in Europe.

Last night they played the local darby, or the SuperClassico as it’s known around these parts – a game pitting both Los Angeles-based teams in the MLS.

The Galaxy played host to Chivas, which simply meant they were the designated local team as both Los Angeles-based teams share the stadium and have their corporate offices down the hall from one another. That’s something unheard of in traditional soccer markets.

Regardless, the two teams put on a great show.

“Hockey is a lot like soccer in that it’s unfair to watch it on TV, it’s an injustice,” Gretzky said. “You come to a soccer game - even I was pretty amazed. You go to a hockey game it’s so much different to see it in person. That’s what I found out tonight. This was really my first soccer game ever.”

After the game Gretzky and his son Tristan went into the Galaxy dressing room to meet Beckham.

“Meeting someone like that, that has done so much for his sport and is a legend is an honour,” Beckham said. “It was great to be able to put on a show for him, good to score so many goals and good to be able to take a picture with him after the game. It was a good night overall.”

© Edmonton Sun 2008