From being booed as a "fraud" last time he returned from Milan, David Beckham is suddenly a star in the LA Galaxy again, having led them to what looks a highly winnable Major League Soccer Cup final against Real Salt Lake tonight in Seattle. The Galaxy go into the game with eight wins and four draws from their past 15 matches, Beckham having set up the crucial opening goal in the semi-final win over Houston Dynamo last weekend while England were losing to Brazil. Our man in LA, Guy Adams, says: "On paper, victory ought to be a formality for the LA side. Real Salt Lake are an unglamorous young team whose combined income amounts to roughly a quarter of Beckham's salary. They only scraped through to the playoffs on the last day of the season and their best-paid player, Javier Morales, takes home a mere $200,000 a year." The prospect of the Galaxy lifting their first MLS Cup since the Beckham era began in 2007 has sparked an unfamiliar rush for tickets. After the original 36,000 sold out, organisers released another 6,000 by opening an extra tier of Qwest Stadium.
You need Franz
What an honourable chap that Franz Beckenbauer is. Having agreed at a chance meeting during the Confederations Cup last summer to address the Soccerex football conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, he later realised he had to be in Cape Town at the same time for the World Cup draw. But a German's word is his bond; the Kaiser has agreed to drop in just for an hour-long interview on Tuesday week. The reconstructed board of England's 2018 World Cup bid, also attending along with many of their rivals, should take the opportunity before he shoots off again for further advice from the man who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to South Africa in the controversial vote for the 2006 World Cup. They must also hope that not too much hubris is read into their sponsorship of the final item at the conference: "Preparing for a Fifa World Cup."
Tilson, 43, pulls on boots
Turn up to a minor fixture featuring a lower-division club and you never know who might be pulling their boots on. Southend United's manager Steve Tilson, clearly a young 43, is now registered as a player again after turning out in the recent Essex Senior Cup tie against Bowers & Pitsea. The Shrimpers, who have avoided going into administration by paying a £2.1m tax bill, were even more hard-pressed in two pre-season friendlies, when kit man Steve Parmenter turned out to revive memories of his part in nearby Canvey Island's run to the third round of the FA Cup eight years ago.
Birmingham curry favour
Birmingham City, whose previous owners often complained about low attendances, were involved in a new ploy to attract fans yesterday: let them eat curry. Before the home game against Fulham, the "Blue Queudrue" was being served free in a local pub as part of a National Curry Week campaign in a promotion with the second city's marketing department. Full-back Franck Queudrue won a cook-off with James McFadden for the honour of having the winning dish named after him. And never mind the prawn sandwiches; Bluenoses are more down-to-earth folk, even in the corporate areas, where the curry was also being doled out.
Winners of Fab DVD
The successful entrants in last week's competition to win "England's Road to South Africa" DVDs, signed by Fabio Capello, were Dick Baynham, Max Double and Lyndsay Ashley. The 10 winners of unsigned DVDs were Donald Tether, Liz Tubby, Karen Newby, Riaz Ravat, Ken McDonald, Mike Terry, John Stables, Stuart Dunlop, Robin Bramhall and Marian Hill. Thanks to all those who entered.