...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.