MLS: Has David Beckham Really Made an Impact in U.S. Soccer?

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IFebruary 17, 2011

CHIGWELL, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 11: David Beckham sighted leaving Tottenham Hotspur's training complex on January 11, 2011 in Chigwell, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/Getty Images)
Neil Mockford/Getty Images

So the Los Angeles Galaxy continue to prepare for another season in Major League Soccer. And while the rest of the team is going through the gauntlet in Arizona as part of their training, midfielder David Beckham is wrapping up training with Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in London before rejoining the club.

As the Galaxy's No. 23 prepares to rejoin his teammates back in the states, the question is posed: has David Beckham really made an impact on U.S. soccer?

If you were to ask me this difficult question, the answer is...No. And here's why.

I remember when it was 2007 and this then-new quirk we like to call the Designated Player Rule was born. The first player to be signed under this rule, which allows teams to compete for star players in the international market, was Mr. Beckham himself. That's why this rule is given the moniker of "The Beckham Rule."

But that was really the only major contribution Beckham made to American soccer, aside from the various youth clinics and the many philanthropic and PR obligations he, his wife Victoria and some of his Galaxy teammates took part in.

When Beckham made his first appearance in an international friendly against Chelsea, all he could get was a few touches and never really got into form until later on. Never mind that he was relatively ineffective at turning around the fortunes of the club in 2007 and 2008.

Then you take into consideration his loan to Milan, which ended with a torn Achilles tendon that caused him to miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup (which he still attended as a mediator for Fabio Capello's England national team).

That brings me to this opinion of the man: Beckham seems to be past his years in terms of performance. He still knows how to score, but his career with the Galaxy has been hampered by injury, reducing him to nine goals in 48 appearances. He isn't as fast as he used to be, nor is he as agile and athletic as he used to be. Age catches up with you.

But why do people still get excited here in Los Angeles whenever Beckham touches the ball, provides or scores?

I remember September 11, 2010 like it was yesterday. That was the day Beckham finally returned from injury and came in as a substitute in LA's 3-1 victory over the Columbus Crew. I see young girls in the stands screaming his name, going all wild as if he were the fifth Beatle.

And then I shake my head. Many fans expect Beckham to replicate the same skill and finish he had as the swingman for Manchester United or with Real Madrid.

News flash, everyone: he isn't. This is a player who didn't make a huge splash, but just a ripple. Personally, I too was hoping for Mr. Beckham to replicate the same heroics fans at the Bernabeu and Old Trafford had been accustomed to.

It's not just there anymore.

That's not to say that David Beckham is not good, period. He still has the experience to draw upon, and the proven leadership to go with it. David Beckham is still a good footballer.

But he's not a great one. Beckham's not a player that has made an impact on American soccer the way his teammate and current Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has.

David Beckham had his chance to make that impact America was hoping for when he donned the strip of the G's for the first time four years ago.

But he let it slip away due to nagging injuries, infighting with teammates, and the overall underachievements of a Los Angeles Galaxy side who deserved better during his time here.

From extraordinary to ordinary. That is David Beckham today.

And as his contract with the team begins to wind down, does Mr. Beckham have a little left in the tank to make an impact on soccer in the U.S.? Voice your take on this question on the View from Victoria Street and Bleacher Report.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.