Black or red? No, that's not a reference to his AC Milan jersey. It's a question of whether that balance sheet shows net gains or losses for the U.S. league that changed its rules and its salary structure to accommodate Beckham's 2007 arrival.
MLS commissioner Don Garber sees nothing but gains.
Citing league attendance and expansion, as well as Galaxy competitiveness, Garber said Beckham achieved every goal and then some. "Overdelivered," was the commissioner's exact characterization.
With all due respect to Garber, that statement is an overreach.
As the blogosphere eagerly awaits word on Beckham's next adventure, whether on the playing field or in an owner's box, let's establish some ground rules for this slideshow.
It is not about Beckham's quality of play or the degree to which his arrival in the States was over-hyped. Beckham was good enough to earn regular playing time for Manchester United and Real Madrid, but was not quite up to everything the 2007 hype machine was purporting.
He was never as great or complete a player as the American non-soccer fan could have assumed from all the fanfare. He was, even in his prime, an attack phase midfielder of questionable contributions during the other phases of play. He had average speed at best. But he could find beautiful crosses and hit lethal free kicks.
Used the right way, he could be and was effective at the highest levels of play.
That's not what these slides will discuss. Instead, these slides will put Garber's assertion to the test.
The following presentation will focus on five critical aspects of that Beckham balance sheet, assess each for gain or loss and determine whether he was an asset or liability for MLS.