Beckham Era comes full circle with title

MLSDB11202011105

Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com

By AVI CREDITOR

CARSON, Calif. — A game of word association to quantify David Beckham's five years in Major League Soccer certainly arouses a wide range of responses depending on which part of the Beckham Era is being discussed.

Hope. Promise. Expectations. Disappointment. Loans. Injuries. Conflict. Comeback. Delivery. Catalyst. Champion.

After helping guide the Los Angeles Galaxy to their third MLS Cup title Sunday night, Beckham's American journey came full circle, fulfilling the on-field potential that he represented when signing with the league in 2007. 

"It's been an amazing five years," Beckham said following the Galaxy's 1-0 triumph over the Houston Dynamo. "This has been the most enjoyable time of my career here in America, and this has just topped it off."

The expectations for a Galaxy dynasty after Beckham's signing may have been a bit hyperbolic, especially considering where the Galaxy were as a franchise when he was thrown into the mix. Even though his signing with the league could be considered a success from an off-field perspective, it's now been validated from a performance standpoint.

"For a guy like David, people tend to look at the salary and think that it should be a championship every year," now-retired Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. "He needs a good supporting cast around him, and I think that's the most important thing that (Galaxy coach Bruce Arena) did was to build that and bring guys in around him that can complement him and play with him and showcase his talents."

His talents, both as a leader and a player, came through this season unlike in any other of his MLS campaigns. Beckham revealed after Sunday's final that he played through a torn hamstring. Throughout the season he battled back spasms. Given multiple opportunities to come up with excuses to remain off the field down the stretch, the 36-year-old Beckham displayed the qualities that would actually merit the captain's armband instead of the one given to him upon his arrival in MLS that was based on entitlement and reputation alone.

"The way David has played through some really serious injuries the past few weeks inspired me a lot," said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who himself struggled with injuries over the last couple of months and saw his personal relationship with Beckham evolve immensely over the years.

While Beckham's commitment to MLS and the Galaxy has come into question during his tenure in MLS — he publicly expressed his desire to have a loan to AC Milan turn into a permanent move two years ago — his dedication in 2011 proved that his signing with MLS was about much more than him just being the ultimate marketing tool to increase the league's global exposure and put fans in the seats.

"David is a champion," Arena said. "I've been around great athletes and competitors in my life in different sports, and this guy is as good as it comes. He has an unbelievable desire to win. He's done it all now — in every country he's been in."

Next on the docket for Beckham is determining whether he'll be adding another country to his decorated career, or if he'll continue as a member of MLS.

Beckham has been bombarded with questions about his future for months, and he addresses them with stoic poise despite being forced to repeat himself over and over again.

According to press in England and France, he's as good as gone to Paris-St. Germain, where he might be able to add another championship in another country's top flight to his resume while also having another shot at playing in the UEFA Champions League. Beckham himself insists he has yet to speak with PSG and that no decision about his future has been made. 

"Of course people are always going to speculate," Beckham said. "People did it the first year I was with Real Madrid. I was going to Chelsea every weekend. That's happened throughout my career. 

"I need to sit back, relax and enjoy this moment and then decide what I want to do. I might talk in past tense every now and then, but it doesn't mean I'm not coming back. At the end of the day I need to decide what's best for me, what's best for the team and my family, and then we'll see."

In an interview on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, Beckham said that he and his family will be celebrating Thanksgiving at the house of Tim Leiweke, president of Galaxy owner AEG and an instrumental figure in bringing Beckham to the United States.  

Whether that meeting turns out to be nothing more than a delicious feast or as significant as a step toward a new Galaxy contract remains to be seen. 

If Beckham moves on, then his MLS story got its Hollywood ending. If he stays, it only fortifies the Galaxy as overwhelming favorites heading into 2012. Whatever Beckham chooses for the next step in his career, he has Arena's backing.

"I think he's got three choices: He stays at L.A., he plays elsewhere or he doesn't play again. Whatever he decides to do, I support 100 percent," Arena said. "He's earned that. If he decides to get onto his horse and ride into the sunset and go elsewhere or retire, I'm all for it. He's earned the right to make the kind of decision he wants to make for him and his family."

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47 Responses to Beckham Era comes full circle with title

  1. felipe says:

    beckham is (was) great for MLS – watching him play, when healthy, it is easy to see the desire and will to win

  2. Sam Nishi says:

    NICE JOB AVI!

    It has been a privilege to watch BECKS from the HDC Pressbox the last 5 seasons – The crossfield switchs (‘Hollywood Ball’) that sees the ball just die at the feet of a teammate on the other side of the pitch is pure, pure, pure .. ..

    Besides > What true Englishman would uproot his family to move to FRANCE? C’mon . .. …

    He was subpar on Sunday and LANDON & ROBBIE were nursing nagging injuries, so full marks to the Bruce for assembling a side that can win the Cup despite the 3 DPs playing hurt .. .. In other words > THANKS JOSH, TODD, OMAR, A.J., SEAN, MAGEE & JUNINHO!!

    Best-ever? When you can win the ultimate trophy with your three big guns sputtering, I reckon they just might be .. ..

    ONE MORE YEAR BECKS!!

  3. KevDC says:

    I’ve been a critic at times, but credit where credit is due: Becks has been good for MLS and the Galaxy.

  4. A.S. says:

    Premier League champion.

    La Liga champion.

    UEFA Champions League champion.

    And, now, the biggest title of them all: MLS champion. Congrats, David.

    In all seriousness, Beckham has been a big positive for MLS. If he goes out now, it will have been a very successful run.

  5. Beckham has always been quality. Did not like his “I want to stay at AC Milan” thing a few years ago, but then again, Capello didn’t make it easy on him if he wanted a spot with England. Hate to see someone’s World Cup dreams dashed, but that’s what Capello and England gets when they demand that Beckham play in Europe and add undue stress to his not so young body. He made it up by giving 110% afterwards and that was good to see.

  6. spencer says:

    Great season for Becks, but I must question what type of tear he had. It must have been the slightest of tears. I tore mine once and there was no way in this life I could have jogged till it healed.

  7. Vic says:

    Some thoughts on this: Galaxy have tremendously increased their revenue since Beckham. Here are some estimates: 5 mill/year from Addidas, 5 mill/year from local cable, vastly increased ticket prices, numerous multi million fees from friendlies, shirt sales etc. You with think Galaxy would do everything in their power to resign Beckham. However, maybe they will still keep some of these revenue sources without Beckham.

  8. Ray says:

    F’n Biggest in our book…Well-done

  9. Gnarls says:

    “If he decides to get onto his horse and ride into the sunset and go elsewhere or retire, I’m all for it.”

    So am I. If I may be so bold and speak for other Galaxy fans, I feel a sense of closure after Sunday night. All of the hype and subsequent disappointment of the Beckham era finally played out the way we hoped. We have our Cup and two Supporters Shields. So many athletes fade away rather than go out with a bang. This is Beckham’s chance to do the latter.

    That said, our midfield could use another 19 assists in 2012.

  10. Junior says:

    The atmosphere at the HDC was surreal for this event…I wonder what the Cup will be like 5/10 years down the road

  11. Gnarls says:

    +1

    If we don’t take it seriously, no one will.

  12. Dimidri says:

    I don’t know if the AC Milan stuff is as bad as it was, and to a certain extent, is, made out to be. His motives weren’t particularly nefarious, he wanted to play for the country he loved, in most instances country over club isn’t something that is belittled. Capello was the bad guy there in my opinion. At the same time, should he have been committed 100%? Probably. But still, it wasn’t the most evil, non-committed thing ever. AC Milan was the proxy by which he was more committed to England than MLS, and I’m ok with that.

  13. Yankeedom says:

    Totally agree about the severity of the tear. It must have been smaller than tiny.

  14. Pete says:

    there is one more trophy within reach….I hope LA goes for it

  15. Samson says:

    Ricketts has meant a lot to this team for a few years now…He has to get props too

  16. ozotkd says:

    Totally Agree!!!!!!!!!

  17. KillerInstinct says:

    With all do respect, how many more articles are we going to have about the Galaxy and beckham? (8 so far, not including the pre-game articles)…is there really not that much going on in the soccer world…I don’t recall other championship teams getting this much news in previous years. Besides this final was exaclty what I thought it was going to be: boring, defensive, punt & run, counter attack, set piece unatractive soccer that both Arena & Kinear love to play. It was a matter of, who ever scored the first goal, Wins…just saying

  18. LA G's says:

    Your hate is delicious

  19. Y Jackson says:

    Garber seems to be pulling the right strings. The changes to the schedule and playoff format are spot on. After Montreal, adding that 20th team has to be the focus. Adding another DP slot for each team has to be looked at also.

  20. Paula says:

    I’m in Los Angeles, was rooting for the Galaxy … and I, too, am getting tired of the “where will he go” stories that have no new information. I get that Becks is a big interview catch, full stop, but various media outlets are literally regurgitating the same 5 quotes.

  21. KiilerInstinct says:

    Hate???? Not really…..it was about time they won, with all the previous years of them choking in the playoffs, besides lets be honest just about any team can make it to the playoffs in this league, no matter how horrible you are…example, The Dynamo. To be honest I really didn’t care who won…its just getting old already…

  22. Gnarls says:

    Group A winners, Pete! I hope so too.

  23. Gnarls says:

    Haha, that’s called a backhanded compliment, which is tantamount to hate. Becks and LA deserve the media love. It’s been a long time coming. Get over it.

  24. Gnarls says:

    Agreed, because I support a team that would fill an extra DP slot. But keep in mind, adding a 4th slot will only increase the gap between the spenders and cheapskates. Right off the bat, LA & NY would look for a 4th, while tightwad teams like NE will fall further and further behind.

    I don’t care though. YAY CAPITALISM!

  25. Lost in Space says:

    I really don’t care if he stays or goes. This last year was obviously his best for his team & league…but I believe time is catching up with him and with the expense of keeping him around with lower & lower returns just doesn’t make since. To me he should be dropped for younger player(s).

  26. PD says:

    well said Paula, you must be new here ;0)

    Seriously though, this was teh best side LA has ever assembled, maybe the best club the MLS has ever seen. Not sure how they top it. Maybe Becks should ride off into the sunset or sign an extension to make a grab for the CONCACAF title, but another 3 or 4 years? I just don’t see it.

    I’m basing this only on a gut feeling (and I’ve said it before so I apologize), but there are so many players who could use this moment as their exit cue, or a springboard overseas or to a bigger paycheck at another club.

    Go down the list:

    Beckham – PSG or EPL
    Donovan – EPL
    Keane – retirement?
    Juninho – overseas
    Magee – will he go the Edson Buddle route?
    Gonzalez – overseas
    Franklin – overseas or another MLS club.

    that leaves three players from the final’s starting lineup.

  27. Judging Amy says:

    a lot of words for someone who claims to be soooooo over it. haha. just sayin.

  28. abc says:

    Let’s not forget that he also won the Supporters Shield twice. I think MLS champion is a bigger deal, but SS is nothing to look down upon, it’s the equivalent of the EPL and La Liga championships he won.

  29. abc says:

    Keeping Beckham will do nothing, it’s not like corporations or fans will increase their level of excitement with the status quo. Beckham got his Hollywood ending, let him move on. Galaxy need to find the NEXT Beckham. Surely there are other big DP targets out there (and I don’t mean Ronaldinho/Anelka types).

  30. Hallie says:

    I also don’t underestimate how heady it must be for an athlete to play with some of the greatest players in their field – don’t forget who was on Milan at the time – and to remember or learn that they still can.
    The same thing happened when Landon played for Everton, the best I’ve seen him play consistently and they loved him there as much as they do in LA even without the history. Toward the end of his loan he too said that he wanted to make it permanent. I’ve never seen that commented upon. Maybe it wasn’t covered as well here, or maybe Donovan had earned whatever slack the Galaxy faithful gave him.
    The point is they had the same response to playing in more mature leagues in historic football cities (no value judgement, I am one who thinks MLS will get there). These guys are only human and I’m sure that their excitement may have gotten the better of them in the moment they made those comments and they both honored their commitment to return.
    Further than that, they dealt with their differences and became incredibly successful teammates.
    Good on the whole team and credit to Arena for fantastic management (and diplomacy).

  31. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    I don’t think there is another ‘Beckham’ out there. A guy who transcends the sport…he was/is a once in a generation player.
    Even Messi, a MUCH better soccer player, does not transcend the sport.
    We were lucky he chose the MLS, I remember saying when the rumours surfaced “now, I’ve heard everything’…little did I know.
    I’ll echo Bruce…he’s earned my respect and I’ll respect whatever he chooses.

  32. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Beckham (out of contract), Juninho (on loan), Franklin (out of contract) OK
    But all the rest are under contract for next year. Could they FORCE a change…maybe…but maybe not, see Twellman, Taylor for evidence.

  33. Twente says:

    He isn’t replacable…Messi and Ronaldo are probably the closest draws. Ronaldinho would be good, but he isn’t the same player anymore. Del Piero, Drogba, or Anelka would be major coups.

  34. RicardoV says:

    What I would like to see is a 4th and 5th DP slot, but make them the new “youth” DP only. The extra slots might make a young southern hemisphere lad try MLS if he’s not yet ready for La Liga, etc.

  35. beachbum says:

    that is well said, thank you. cheers man

  36. beachbum says:

    me too!!!

  37. spencer says:

    You know Keane is only like 31 or 32 and is heading to the Euro’s this summer right?

  38. beachbum says:

    good read Avi :)

  39. Lion says:

    Mike Magee is Jesus

  40. Bandito says:

    Killerinstinct, your blind ignorance is really annoying. The Galaxy have lost in the playoffs a lot because they’ve been in the playoffs a lot. However, just a couple years ago they were horrible. Not so now. And regarding the Dynamo, they certainly deserved to make the playoffs and there was no other team who deserved to be in the final ahead of them. They went undefeated the last 2 1/2 months of the season. What do you want? So, if you its so old already and you don’t care who won, why are you here? Go find some place to leave your miserable opinions. This is for those of us who love this league.

  41. Bunchodod says:

    Are you drunk? What a bunch of nonsense!

  42. Payne says:

    Even though his signing with the league could be considered a success from an off-field perspective, it’s now been validated from a performance standpoint.

  43. Gnarls says:

    Sometimes I get gut feelings too. Then I fart and I feel better.

    *Becks probably isn’t returning.
    *LD might go on loan, but nothing permanent.
    *Keane turned 31 in July. That’s only old if you’re 19.
    *Juninho’s loan spell is up. It could be extended, but transfer + salary is untenable.
    *Magee isn’t going anywhere.
    *Gonzalez MIGHT go overseas.
    *Franklin isn’t going anywhere.

  44. Gnarls says:

    Omar Gonzalez is Jesús.

  45. Chris says:

    I think he needs to win a another trophy to be validated from that standpoint.

  46. Cito says:

    The competitive nature of the league makes the MLS Cup much harder to achieves than any other….