What David Beckham's Departure Means for the Los Angeles Galaxy
Team officials released a statement in which Beckham said,
I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.
The English midfielder has contributed greatly to the growth of Major League Soccer and the success of the Galaxy. Beckham has been a staple in LA's midfield for many years, so the big question now is how the Galaxy will fare without him.
Manager Bruce Arena has always liked to send out a central midfield pairing of Beckham and Juninho—the young Brazilian that is on loan from Sao Paulo—when possible.
In the Galaxy's previous game against Seattle Sounders FC, Juninho was injured and could not start, so Beckham was paired with another Brazilian midfielder, Marcelo Sarvas.
Assuming Juninho returns on loan, a central midfield pairing composed of the two Brazilians would still be one of the best in MLS. The midfield may even be better without Beckham. It's true that his service is still phenomenal, but his age is showing on the field.
Many times this season, Beckham has picked up injuries that have kept him sidelined for longer than expected. In addition, I question his ability to go 90 on a consistent basis when the Galaxy's schedule gets hectic (with the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, MLS regular season, midseason friendlies and CONCACAF Champions League).
But one of the Galaxy's greatest strengths, their midfield depth, would be diminished. The depth of the Galaxy is what makes them so successful in so many different competitions.
One thing that the Galaxy will surely miss is David's incredible knack for finding the back of the net from set pieces. We've seen his signature free kicks from just outside the box as well as some amazing goals, such as his Olympic goal (a goal scored directly from a corner kick) last season (and another one).
The Englishman's departure also means that a Designated Player roster spot is open. The rumors of a possible move by Chelsea's Frank Lampard to LA are picking up now. Although he's getting up there in age, Lampard will no doubt provide some more quality on the pitch for the Galaxy.
There's not too much to worry about in terms of LA's future. Even if Juninho doesn't return on loan, the freed-up DP roster spot will be available for the Galaxy to make another big move.
It's not all crystal clear, though. There is some speculation about American soccer star Landon Donovan and a potential permanent move to Everton FC after the MLS season concludes, so that may be a concern for the Galaxy. If this happens, LA will have two of its three DP spots available with forward Robbie Keane occupying the third.
In addition, Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owners of the Galaxy, other sports franchises (notably the Los Angeles Kings and MLS club Houston Dynamo) and numerous sports complexes (LA Live and the Staples Center), is up for sale. The willingness of the new owners to spend may play a factor in what kind of big-name players LA will sign in the future.
Names like Kaka and Ronaldinho have already been associated with the Galaxy. And who knows? Maybe even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo will play in the States in a few years. How much the new owners would be willing to spend not only affects the Galaxy but the league's image as well. LA has always set the standard for the rest of MLS and needs to continue doing so for the good of league.
Beckham leaving may help the Galaxy in a way that might not be expected. When he left Manchester United in 2003, he helped the team win the Premier League title. And in 2007, before joining LA, he won the La Liga title with Real Madrid. Now, he has the chance to help the Galaxy win the MLS Cup once again.
The fairytale ending for David Beckham's Galaxy career is set. Whatever happens in his last game with LA, Beckham should always be remembered for all he has done for the growth of MLS and American soccer.
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