Last year , I had a blog post, lauding the David Beckham rule, allowing MLS teams to sign one designated player who's salary would not count against the salary cap. I love the rule, but Beckham's act is starting to wear thin. Maybe I expected too much, or maybe he hasn't delivered. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
Three years ago, the signing of David Beckham was supposed to change the face of the MLS. It was to give the league legitimacy. I thought it would begin to show the world that we were an emerging soccer power. Our great wealth as a nation was going to buy us the respect amongst the football world. Instead, Beckham has sold a bunch of jerseys, made a ton of money and has failed to even get the Galaxy to the playoffs. What I have learned is that, as in life, money can't buy you everything. Brand Beckham sells, it just doesn't win.
I remember a conversation I had with my Uncle Rich, who is far and away more in tune with the beautiful game through refereeing and coaching. He had been saying that for us to be great, our best players needed to play in the better leagues around the world to raise the level of play here. He essentially was saying that we did not need Beckham. I still think we do, but it needs to be an American Beckham. The US national team win over Spain showed me that my Uncle was right. Outside of Landon Donovan. most of our best players are playing around the world outside of the MLS and they are winning. Donovan, previous to his stint with the Galaxy, did play overseas. Tim Howard taking his club team Everton, to the FA Cup final against my beloved Chelsea, showed me that we are earning that respect. The win over a record seeking, all time great Spanish team is earning that respect. The signing of Oguchi Onyewu, (yes he is an American), by AC Milan is showing that respect. David Beckham is not.
I so want the David Beckham experiment to work. We all now know that he is here to collect a paycheck and nothing else. In America we love a great sales pitch, but we also want it to deliver. I just haven't seen it yet. Somewhere in a suburban park is the American Pele and we don't need to import it.