Sunday, August 10, 2008


It has been just over a year now since David Beckham made the move from Real Madrid to the L.A. Galaxy, enough time to more accurately gauge what Beckham means to the MLS and whether his presence has benefitted the MLS.

In my opinion, to date, the Beckham MLS experiement has been a success. Maybe not so much for Beckham personally, or even the Galaxy as a club, but for the MLS as a whole, it has been a success.

Beckham did his part for the MLS before he ever slipped on the Galaxy kit or laced up his boots at the Home Depot Center. Merely by inking the deal with the Galaxy, Beckham brought the MLS a huge amount of attention and made sports journalists in the U.S. and abroad pay attention to the MLS, including the likes of Jim Rome, who might not have changed his ignorant soccer bashing ways, but he had to pay attention.

Unfortunately, when Beckham arrived, he was hampered by an injury, which was aggrevated further when Beckham, like any top level athlete is prone to do, took to the pitch before letting the injury properly heal. Still not fully recovered when the Galaxy faced Pachuca in the group stage of SuperLiga 2007, myself and others were chagrined to see Beckham start against a FMF side that is very physical and willing to go for the weak spots of opposing players, so it was not a huge surprise to see Beckham go down with a new injury.

Granted Beckham's rocky start was fodder for the soccer haters and AngloSnobs, but really, did we expect anything less of them. Even if Beckham did not have the injury problems the haters would have found something else to pick on and pick apart.

I believe, suspect that the presence of Beckham in the MLS proved beneficial in the off-season to those clubs looking to recruit young talent from South America and other locales. The presence of Beckham in the MLS had to give the league a higher reputation in the eyes of young players looking to make a name for themselves.

As for this season, Beckham is fully recovered from his injuries of last season and has become an important, key player on his squad, a crucial competent in the many of the 38 goals scored by the Galaxy so far this season. However . . . .

And this is why the Beckham in MLS is a success story . . .

The Galaxy are not leading the Western Conference, are not a contender for the Supporter's Shield, and, after just over half a season, have 23 points with 6 wins, 8 losses, and 5 ties.

The Galaxy have not dominated the MLS. Beckham, despite his skill level, has not dominated the MLS. And we all know that if Beckham and the Galaxy dominated, then the haters would latch onto that as further evidence of their already dim, ill-informed view of the MLS and U.S. soccer.

Granted, the Galaxy might have a better record if they had a better defense, but they don't and even if they did I suspect that, based on watching their play, would merely turn a couple of those losses into ties, which would put them in contention but they would still not be dominating the league.

So, in my opinion, the Beckham in MLS experience has a been a good, successful ride, despite some bumps in the road.

No comments: