By Paul Oberjuerge
David Beckham is making news again. But not quite the sort the English
Typically, we’re talking about just how big a celebrity he is. Is he another Pele? Another Princess Di? Is he bigger than both of them? Put together?
What is his wife, Victoria, aka "Posh Spice" up to? And what wacky names did he bestow on his sons again? Will there be a film career? Which is his latest tattoo? What is he doing with his hair now? And will he deign to speak to us in that nasal Cockney?
Hard to imagine that two summers ago he was being hailed as the potential prophet/savior for soccer on this side of the Atlantic, the man that the Los Angeles and Major League Soccer apparently had arranged to enrich to the tune of $250 million (in salary and endorsement deals) over five years — in exchange for His Royal Presence on the modest pitches of the United States.
Beckham is back in MLS, and with the Galaxy, and the only sound louder than a sort of collective global yawn are the boos likely to rain down on his head when the Galaxy plays AC Milan in an exhibition on its home field, in Carson, Calif., on Sunday.
The onetime savior is still famous, but "infamy" is encroaching on that
His mistake, it now is clear, is his lack of commitment to his American
His return also comes the same week as a book entitled "The Beckham
And when Donovan famously suggested, in "The Beckham Experiment," that Beckham was neither a good captain nor a good teammate from the moment Beckham-choice Ruud Gullit was fired as Galaxy coach, last August … well, the waters here are well and truly muddied, with Galaxy fans regularly debating whether Becks and Posh should take their slender posteriors back to the other side of the Atlantic and leave them there.
Beckham returned to an MLS pitch, Thursday night in New Jersey, and at least there were no fisticuffs between him and Donovan — or other Galaxy teammates critical of him in the Wahl book. The Galaxy rolled to a 3-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls, the worst club in MLS, and if
Meanwhile, Donovan — who Beckham had declared "unprofessional" for
The Sunday international friendly with AC Milan could prove a turning point in Beckham’s third (and presumably last) summer in Los Angeles. If local fans seem to have turned against him, well, he may as well pack up because the sales of those No. 23 Beckham Galaxy jerseys presumably are about to take a tumble. In the unlikely event fans rally around him, and the Galaxy continues to do well … we can’t say with any assurance Beckham will be playing with the club through 2011, as originally planned. But at least there remains the slim chance of it.
The world’s most famous striker of a soccer ball at rest was a bit off his
He played a sort of attacking midfield role, which isn’t quite normal for
It appears the Galaxy, three years on, has regained control of its own
If New York is any gauge, his celebrity (in terms of MLS crowds) is on the
In his first appearance in Giants Stadium with the Galaxy, in 2007, 66,237 tickets were sold. When Beckham and the Galaxy visited in 2008, 46,754 fans showed up.
On Thursday night, the crowd was down to 23,238, indicating a two-thirds drop in "lookie-loo" interest for the erstwhile Golden Boy and whatever collection of modest Galaxy talent has trailed him onto the pitch.
Unless something odd happens, The Beckham Experiment seems very much finished. It was attempted. It failed. That happens a lot in the laboratory, too.
Now all that remains is the conclusion of it all.
He already seems to have overstayed his welcome. He is clear about wanting to return to AC Milan the moment the Galaxy season ends, and then hopes/intends to play for England in the 2010 World Cup, which would put him back in Los Angeles about in August of 2010 — or more probably, never.
So, there he goes, making a half-lap around the MLS for one last season, increasingly regarded by MLS fans as a sort of globetrotting carpetbagger, the bloom very much off the English rose. All we have left to see is how he exits, this fall. In a perfect world, it would be after the Galaxy has won the MLS Cup, but if he again becomes a divisive figure within the team, he could be freed as soon as Oct. 24 — the Galaxy’s last regular-season match.
It seems as if it would be in the best interests of everyone concerned if
Paul Oberjuerge writes about soccer for the NY Times soccer blog Goal. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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