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Soccer notes


David Beckham, soccer's second- highest paid player, is set to have his Real Madrid contract extended by two years through June 2009.

The 31-year-old, who helped boost sales of the team's merchandise 67 percent in his first season, will be retained for his athletic skills, Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon said. Beckham was dropped from England's national team two weeks ago.

"Marketing reasons are important, but in this Real Madrid the sporting side is key," Calderon told Television Espanola last night. Team coach Fabio Capello "gave the green light to Beckham's extension," Calderon said.

Beckham joined Madrid from Manchester United three years ago for a fee of as much as 35 million euros ($45 million). The team hasn't won a trophy in that time. He intends to sign a new contract after holding talks with Madrid in September, according to an unidentified Beckham spokesman quoted by the U.K.'s Press Association.

One of several so-called "galacticos" hired by former president Florentino Perez partly to boost sales, Beckham was overtaken by Barcelona's Ronaldinho atop France Football's soccer rich list in April.

Real Madrid drew its season-opening game 0-0 against Villarreal Sunday.


Daniel Martinez raced through two defenders, faked the goalkeeper and tapped the ball into the open net.

Such things were expected of Martinez when he was a teenage soccer star in Honduras. Now, he was wearing hand-me-down shoes and playing in a dusty parking lot.

Martinez was one of more than 50 homeless American men and women who traveled to Charlotte this month for the first Homeless USA Cup. And he was one of 12 selected to represent the United States in next month's Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa.

"I feel like I'm at home, man," the 23-year-old Martinez said. "There is nothing else better in the world. People, soccer, it's great."

Competitors on eight teams representing six U.S. cities stayed at churches and ate at soup kitchens while in town. Matches of two seven-minute halves were played in a downtown parking lot.

Play was interrupted by occasional shoving matches. Players ranged from their early 20s to late 50s, and the range of talent just as great.

From the players who competed in Charlotte, organizers selected a team for the 48-nation tournament in Cape Town. In some cases, talent wasn't the deciding factor — some players didn't have the documents for passports.

The organizer, New York homeless advocate Jeff Grunberg, is still raising $25,000 to get the team and the staff to South Africa.

The idea for a homeless soccer tournament began in 2002 in South Africa. Grunberg was attending a conference about street newspapers, which are written and sold by the homeless based on a business model Grunberg originated in New York.


Aston Villa moved into second place in the English Premier League on Sunday, beating Newcastle 2-0 in Birmingham in a game attended by Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner, Villa's new majority shareholder.

Lerner received a rousing reception when he took his seat after flying in from the United States to watch the game.

Luke Moore gave Villa the lead in the third minute and Juan Pablo Angel made it 2-0 in the 38th.

Villa and Everton have seven points after three games. Manchester United, which beat Watford 2-1 Saturday, has nine points.

Chelsea, the two-time defending champions, looked unconvincing in a 2-0 win over Blackburn. The victory came days after a 3-2 loss to Middlesbrough.