Saturday, February 7, 2009

Arrivederci Beckham...

...and grazie per niente!!

When David Beckham arrived in the United States to play professional soccer, it was like one of those cheesy 1980’s teen movies. The most popular, best looking guy in high school befriends the beleaguered unpopular nerdy kid. He foregoes the in-crowd and the cool kids and through this friendship the nerdy kid is transcended. Because such malarkey never happens in real life, fans of Major League Soccer should never have expected that our homecoming king would stick around to enable said transcendence. And who could blame him?

I certainly don’t. Though he forfeits the Hollywood lifestyle that (I guess) kept the missus happy, he will rid himself of games played with a substantially underwhelming L.A. Galaxy side.

Beckham is not a striker. He is a midfielder who at this stage in his career excels as placing kicks for his teammates to bury in the net. If he doesn’t have good players around him, David Beckham will do nothing for your league other than give the girls something to squeal about. In America’s ESPN highlight minded sports consciousness, no one wanted to watch Becks make passes to Galaxy teammates who either couldn’t score or were out of position.

The people that run MLS are smart, soccer savvy people but they flubbed this one. Why they thought a good team (a good game) would suddenly materialize around Beckham is beyond me. In truth, who knows if it would have benefited the league should Beckham have hoisted the MLS Cup at season’s end with a good team? Perhaps it’d have been a possibility if he’d gone to Red Bull New York. Then again that would have meant he and his glass ankles would be playing on artificial turf in a pathetically vacant Giants Stadium. Yuck. Who could blame him for not wanting that?

Either way, it’s my hope that Becks comes out of this looking like a fly-by-night doofus who can’t make up his mind or at least an inconsiderate prick who clearly didn’t deliver on his quest to build up his sport here in the States. But I know that won’t be the case. In the end, we’ll look like the knuckleheads who thought we could keep the World Game’s darling boy with a league play that can’t even compare with Britain’s third-tier Division One.

It’s good we cut our losses and move on. Soccer will grow in America. But it is going to be slow, deliberate and organic. I hope we learned a lesson here that gimmicks don’t work.


  1. I might have liked the whole deal a little more had Becks signed with Columbus, rather than with the putrid Galaxy.

    Part of the reason I delight so much in what went down is that it was driven by things other than soccer.
    Posh wanted to live in LA and be a star; and Becks maybe had some of the same ambitions.
    It was almost like soccer was a secondary or tertiary reason for the move they made.
    And when people do stuff like that -- well, it's kinda fun to see them fall on their faces, at least among the less saintly of us.

    Is America's best hope to turn its back completely on European soccer and develop our own players and traditions?
    I mean, we've had Old Pele, Old Cruyff, Old George Best and semi-Old Becks here in the states, and none of them have dented the public consciousness long enough to make a difference.
    Are we best off just not even going for those kinds of players, not even for name recognition?

  2. Though this was a detour, we're clearly on the right track - building small soccer-specific stadiums - zeroing in on America's (albeit small but genuine) soccer fans. It will be slow, but growth will be organic.

    Yes, this did reek of the NASL follies of the 70's. Hopefully we've learned our lesson.

    'Once in a Lifetime' by Gary Newsham is a great read about the Pele years...highly recommend it.

  3. Isn't he that dude from the movie with the really hot girl from Pirates of the Caribbean? That was a good movie.

  4. Slimbo, for heavens sake just rent "Victory" starring Sylvester Stallone and Michael Cain (the real British one not the other guy). I'm pushing for a remake of this movie starring Becks as Bobby Mooore's character and Ronoadihno as Pele's character. Hopefully they tweak the script just a bit LOL!

  5. I'm surprised this hasn't been seized upon by someone. The problem with your idea is that when Becks opens his mouth to speak he sounds like a eigth grade Eastender. A film like this wouldn't do well in America but who knows...depending on the cast it might...might be a boon for the sport here...