Was David Beckham all that MLS thought he would be?
This past week had been tough. Israel’s started bombing Gaza, AC/DC joined iTunes, Rebels in Congo initiated plans on overthrowing the government and Hostess Brands, the Bread & Confectionary maker that gave us Twinkies & Wonder Bread, decided to close shop. And between all this, former England dead-ball specialist called it a day on his career in the MLS and the US in general.
It was only six years ago, when the global sports icon issued a statement of coming to the United States, joining Los Angeles Galaxy, after having spent 4 “not-so-good” seasons at Real Madrid. Critics claimed he was mad, with his sole intention being the $32.5 million that was offered by the club, and to be closer to the glamour filled life of Hollywood.
Beckham on the other hand would say – “Rubbish”. We all have our claims in our heads, especially while considering the salaries that he earned below but he knows best.
2007 – $6,500,000.04
2008 – $6,500,000.04
2009 – $6,500,000.04
2010 – $6,500,000.04
2011 – $6,500,000.04
2012 – $3,999,999.96
* As disclosed by the MLS Players Union.
And then, one also has to consider the income generated from the various endorsements he had, basically earning him a good $250 million or so.
Moving on, David made his first proper debut for the club in the SuperLiga 2007 semifinal against Washington DC based side – D.C. United, scoring his first goal and adding an assist in the 2-0 win. From there on, he represented the club in 98 games, scoring eighteen goals, providing forty assists (some of which were of pure class), collecting twenty-seven yellows and a pathetic challenge that earned him his only red.
From a broader perspective, while this cannot be proved by any means, it could be said that his presence in the MLS definitely helped in raising the average attendance levels of the league throughout the six seasons. From 16,770 to ~ 18,807. Not a big number but considering the capacity of stadiums in which most of their teams here play, it is quite significant. And the same goes for the TV ratings of the league.
His image in the league also helped in obtaining the services of various big name quality players from Europe. Players like Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio and most recently Tim Cahill have come to the MLS. In fact, what’s even more shocking is that this season, Al Jazeera Sports had distinctly aired a few important and not-so important MLS games throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.
All of which was geared towards making MLS a global brand, and which Beckham was part of.
His talents were always about distribution, purpose and sincere attempt. His lack of speed was compensated with the way he could curl a ball from any angle. People, in a normal situation, do not rise from nothing. As in the case of Beckham, his advantage and ability on the field has come from learning and working hard and making sense of the game in ways others cannot. He remains till date, one of my prime examples of an “Outlier” – as mentioned by Malcolm Gladwell. A man who has put in his effort as he got through the “10,000-hour rule” to make it to where he is right now – due to the sheer brilliance of the curl he can generate on the ball. Below are a few examples of just that while he was at L.A Galaxy.
(Beckham’s wonder strike which sealed the victory against Portland Timbers)
(David Beckham’s provides an assist to McGee who heads the ball past Nick Rimando to take LA Galaxy past Real Salt Lake into the 2012 MLS Cup Final)
The 37-yr-old UNICEF ambassador did not entirely call it quits, stating that he “wants to experience a final challenge” before ultimately hanging up his boots. As he prepares to play his final game for the Galaxy on December 1st against Texas based Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup, in an attempt to win his second title for the club, all eyes and ears will be eagerly waiting the news. A few leagues are already on the alert, with reports of Australia and China leading the pack. There are also talks of him moving to the re-invigorated team of PSG, or finishing his career in Middle East.
Whichever option he decides to choose from, one thing is clear. The man can bring in the crowd and generate sales purely based on his ‘David Beckham’ brand, no matter where he goes. Nothing else is needed.