ORLANDO – After about 23 false starts, Major League Soccer unveiled a team in Miami this week.
Did it ever.
The announcement was held at the swanky Knight Concert Hall. There were bands and confetti cannons and fans belted out “Guantanamera,” with a slight lyrical change.
“One David Beckham, there’s only one David Beckham. One David Beck-ham, there’s only one David Beckham.”
And they’ve got him, which means we don’t.
By “we,” I don’t just mean Orlando City. I mean the city of Orlando.
As a proud taxpaying citizen, I’ll admit that Beckham owning an MLS team 250 miles away makes me a little jealous and nervous. The jealousy comes from Orlando’s rivalry with Miami.
To which Miami would say, “What rivalry?
“We have swimming pools, movie stars, South Beach, the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and Vanilla Ice.”
And now they have one of the most famous and handsome faces on Earth promising to bring soccer glory to South Florida.
So where does that leave Orlando City?
Who knows what to make of the Lions? They’ve been great at marketing and building a stadium, terrible at actually building a team.
The Lions didn’t need the arrival of Beckham FC to motivate them. But now that it’s here (or will be in 2020), they’d better get their act together.
Not just for yourselves, dear Lions. Do it for Orlando.
The MLS is all into rivalries. It even has “Rivalry Week,” which puts Orlando in an awkward geographical position.
Jan. 29, 2018; Miami, Fla.; Fans hold signs with the likeness of MLS team owner David Beckham as they wait outside prior to the expansion announcement at Adrienne Arsht Center. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
The closest team is Atlanta, but that’s a forced rivalry. The matchup with New York City FC has more spice, but stadium vandalism and street fights are overcome by the distance between the Bronx and Parramore.
Ever since the first Hatfield shot the first McCoy, the best rivalries have been neighborhood rivalries. Real Beckham, or whatever they’re going to call the MLS team, certainly qualifies, but let’s be honest. We can’t match Miami’s Q rating.
The media conference the other day was more like the Golden Globes. There was usual Beckham paparazzi storm, gushing MLS executives and a video featuring congratulatory shout-outs from Jay-Z, Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, DJ Khaled, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
What are we going to counter with, Larry the Cable Guy cracking “Git-R-Done”?
No doubt, the Lions could use a legit rival. The most obvious one right now is Besiktas for stealing Cyle Larin. The only problem is Turkey is farther away than the Bronx.
Miami is much closer, and it was bound to get an MLS franchise one day. But why did it have to be led by a guy who’s officially a God in 132 countries?
Nobody bends it like Beckham. You know ESPN and Fox would love for Beckham’s boys to become the Patriots of the MLS.
Heck, you know the MLS wants Miami to become the Patriots of the MLS. Not that Beckham will ever be mistaken for Robert Kraft, much less Bill Belichick.
Frankly, I hate Beckham for being so much more handsome, wealthy and accomplished than I could ever dream of becoming. I hope you’re not as petty.
Lionel Messi even sent his regards and hinted that he might want to play for Miami.
Great, that’s all we need for everybody to forget Orlando even exists. I mean, it’s not like we’d counter by signing Ronaldo.
Wait a minute, I just had a thought.
Nah, he’s going to be playing for Orlando’s XFL team in 2020.
I’m afraid we can forget ever topping Team Beckham and Miami when it comes to adoration. Our only option is to beat them the old-fashioned way.
On the pitch.
Please Lions, Git-R-Done.
David Whitley is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.