David Beckham signs for LA Galaxy, and for the first time in its history, Major League Soccer is genuine, top-of-the-fold (as we increasingly archaic journalists say) news. While the media pops its gourd over what Bexx brings to the table as a celebrity and glitz magnet, expect extreme teeth-gnashing in the American soccersphere: is splashing out $250M to an over-the-hill free-kick specialist worth it for a league built on the cheap? is Beckham more or less ridiculous and pitiable than Landon Donovan, his putative clubmate; what-oh-what does this say about The Game in America...?
The American soccer community (Anglophone division) is woefully dependent on English football culture as its model. (This blog is no exception). The British press loves nothing more than to excoriate Beckham (or anyone else who has tasted success but occasionally has an off week), so it's hardly surprising that a lot of fans over here don't really rate the man any more. His struggles at Real Madrid (which is, perceptive fans will note, Real Fucking Madrid) caused him to drop in just about everyone's estimation. So is this a coup or a fuck-up on a continental scale?
A few bottom-line truths from the Eleven Devils Expert Department:
—If you step back from the blather, hype and anti-hype, all D. Beckham has done in his career is: score (and create) tanker-loads of goals and win a bunch of trophies with the two biggest clubs in the world; play in three World Cups (the only Englishman to do so); and establish himself as one of the most famous practicioners of his art in the world. Only in England could someone with that CV end up a tabloid whipping-boy.
—If you don't think he's still capable of tearing MLS apart, you haven't watched the league.
—Provided he doesn't blow his ACL in his first season, he will be worth every penny to everyone involved. Adidas, MLS and the Galaxy will sell merchandise as fast as they can uncrate it. Venues across the league will sell out for his first few visits. If only one lookie-loo in 20 becomes an MLS season ticket holder, MLS will consider the investment wise.
—What do you bet that MLS Commissioner Don Garber received at least one call from a prospective expansion-club investor today?
—What do you bet MLS will schedule one of Beckham's first away games with the Galaxy in either Kansas City or Salt Lake, where the league is fighting uphill battles for publicly funded stadiums? (Sorry: stadia.)
Does hype have a lot to do with this signing? Yes. Does that make it a bad idea? Not necessarily.