Finally! Beckham All To Ourselves!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | View Comments
SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 22:  (L-R) David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy stands with coach Bruce Arena following their defeat by Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final at Qwest Field on November 22, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Poor David Beckham. He missed out on the World Cup he worked so hard to be ready for by tearing his Achilles tendon in Milan, and now this. Fabio Capello says there's really no place in the England team for Becks, considering that the midfielder is simply "too old."

He is, of course, and it behooves England to move on from Beckham. Leadership, a cultured right foot, and whatever else Beckham might have to offer can't make up for the fact that he's 35 and coming off of a rather serious injury. England have better options than Beckham.

Since Beckham won't play for England anymore, he won't need winter loans from the Galaxy, a travel itinerary that limits his effectiveness for everyone, or a split focus that keeps him from doing what he said he intended to when he signed with LA in 2007. From an MLS standpoint, minus a few big crowds in the initial stages and half a season of Becks last year on the way to a Galaxy MLS Cup final appearance, Beckham's commitment must have been less than they hoped.

So now he can focus all of his energy on MLS, the Galaxy, and popularizing the game in the United States as he claimed he was so keen on doing back when he arrived. The only problem is that Becks is no longer the highest caliber player in the league, his star has faded over the course of the last three years, and his contributions on the pitch aren't likely to make him stand out much. Three years on and somehow David Beckham has become an MLS afterthought.

Not that the celebrity media care. Beckham's still got some juice with the paparazzi, and surely there's something to be said for that type of attention benefiting the league. Like it or not, Beckham is still more recognizable that Henry could ever be; while the Frenchman is the league's credibility boost on the field, the Englishman is the league's pop culture magnet off it. It's debatable whose effect is more beneficial, though the smarter league approach of going after the soccer fan that isn't yet a fan of MLS puts more weight on what Henry can do.

Still, it will be nice to have David Beckham as an MLS player and nothing more, won't it?

I should probably also mention that Beckham has returned to training with the Galaxy ahead of schedule.

In the end, Beckham's value comes down to creating a larger profile for MLS, proving to the league and its owners that a high-profile signing can be successful, and giving foreign stars reason to consider playing in the league. If you buy that Henry is here in part because of Beckham, than the midfielder is directly responsible for part of the new look MLS of 2010.

Now let's see how much he has left on the field. With the amount of points the Galaxy have accumulated, Arena has the luxury to bring him back slowly, no matter LA's current dip in form. Whether or not he's quite the player he was before, he's probably still good enough to contribute in some way in MLS.

No matter what he does, though, the three years of split-focus behind him mean he didn't quite live up to his MLS promise.

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