As we approach the end of the 2011 Major League Soccer season, we are also closing in on the end of David Beckham’s five-year contract with the league and the Los Angeles Galaxy. And while the move to the United States was considered historic at the time, Beckham is no more of a star in this country now, than he was five years ago.
Part of the problem is that this is just the second season in five years that Beckham has played close to a full MLS schedule. Of the 25 games played by the Galaxy (out of a 30-game schedule), Beckham has appeared in 19. That is already second to the 25 games he appeared in during the 2008 season.
But maybe more importantly, Beckham’s deft passing game, but with a lack of actual scoring, just doesn’t seem to resonate with the average sports fan in the States.
In five seasons, Beckham has scored a total of 11 goals. And in only one season has he scored more than two (5 in 2008). This season, Beckham has tied his MLS-high of 10 assists, and the Galaxy are in first-place, but he has only taken 22 shots in those 19 games, and only two have found the back of the net.
But what is truly amazing, is just how under-the-radar Beckham’s on-field play can be at times here in the US.
One of Beckham’s two goals this season came directly off a corner kick. Literally. He was delivering the corner kick, and he bent it like, well, like Beckham right into the goal. It would be like trying to slap a ball to the right side in baseball to advance a runner, only to have the ball fly over the fence for a home run. And yet, it was barely mentioned in US sports highlights.
And then there was the questionable yellow card Beckham received during a recent match that may have been intentional to get out of having to play in the Galaxy’s next game. A move Beckham has pulled before. If Alex Rodriguez had pulled a similar move, it would still be making headlines weeks later as we raked ARod over the coals.
Then again, Rodriguez scores. Beckham doesn’t. And that may be why we care about ARod.