David Beckham's MLS Adventure Is Almost Over: Was He Value for Money?

Ross Bellamy@@ross_bellamyContributor IIINovember 21, 2012

The end is nigh for Beckham's American adventure
The end is nigh for Beckham's American adventureStephen Dunn/Getty Images

It was finally announced this morning that David Beckham’s MLS adventure is reaching its finale.

The Twittersphere has been awash this week with tweets about Beckham supposedly opting for one last venture before retirement, but we are never one to comment on rumors or conjecture here at Bleacher Report.

However, the tweeters were correct, and he will play his last game against Houston Dynamo, with LA Galaxy looking to defend their MLS title.

The official announcement about Beckham’s departure from the MLS in December gave me the opportunity to pass judgment on his LA Galaxy career.

Beckham joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 to the backdrop of much media fanfare and the astonishment of the football community. His contract was worth an estimated $6.5 million per year, a sizable salary for someone who was already 32 years old.

When he signed on the dotted line, he stated his intention to grow the MLS’s reputation, making it a household brand to compete with the global football giants like La Liga and the EPL.

The football world was about to witness the emergence of a new powerhouse domestic football league.

So, did the colossal expenditure justify the means?

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"No" is the simple answer

In a previous article, I detailed how the MLS’ stock is not rising as quickly as it should, as it struggles to acquire substantial TV ratings both in the USA and overseas whilst still being firmly in the shadow of the more established and popular EPL, NBA and NFL.

The influx of big-named players in the twilight of their careers—not just Beckham, but also the likes of Thierry Henry—did not whet the appetite of the casual football fan to the degree of which MLS bosses expected.

In the positive column, Beckham's stint at La Galaxy brought success in the guise of three MLS titles, with a fourth on the horizon this year.

However, that success is clouded over by controversy.

Almost immediately, he also faced criticism from some sections of LA Galaxy fans for a perceived lack of commitment to the cause.

Two loan stints at Italian giants AC Milan, during the second of which he suffered a serious Achilles injury, in an attempt to keep his place in the England setup did little to help that perception.

During this less-than-auspicious period, he continued to rake in untold millions of dollars from his American employer.

To justify his paycheck, Beckham should have been focused on increasing the MLS’ brand awareness, not attempting to prolong his England career.

Other low points included the a verbal altercation in 2009 with teammate and American soccer superstar Landon Donovan, who criticized Beckham for treating the MLS “like a joke,” and a confrontation with a Galaxy fan in 2010 over alleged personal indiscretions did little to enhance his reputation, or, maybe more importantly, the MLS’

Kevin Lee’s article details some of the good things that Beckham brought to the MLS and how his departure might effect LA Galaxy, but I very much doubt the Beckham roadshow leaving Los Angeles will be a hammer blow to American soccer.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with sentiments of MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who stated that "There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived"   

But, with $6.5 million per year being delivered into Mr. Beckham’s already bulging bank account, his MLS' tenure could, and should, have been much more successful

Just like the grade I received for the majority of my high school William Shakespeare essays, Beckham’s stint in the MLS gets a B-


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