SBD/Issue 156/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Achilles Injury Likely To Shelf Beckham For Entire MLS Season

Beckham's Absence Could Open Door For
Galaxy To Bring In Another Designated Player

Galaxy MF David Beckham yesterday revealed that he will likely miss the entire MLS season due to the torn Achilles' tendon he suffered last month, adding "another chapter to the strange saga of disappointment and redemption that has made Beckham's stay in the U.S. such compelling theater," according to Brian Straus of FANHOUSE.com. One year after "making amends with many fans by helping" the Galaxy reach the MLS Cup, Beckham "will be a spectator once again." While Beckham "injected a bit of quality and class" to MLS, the league now is "at the point where it doesn't need" him. Straus: "The novelty had sort of worn off anyway, and there are plenty of compelling reasons to continue to pay attention to the Galaxy" (FANHOUSE.com, 4/26). The GLOBE & MAIL's Paul James writes MLS "no longer requires" Beckham's presence on the field "for any future success." His foray into MLS "undoubtedly has succeeded in terms of off-the-field exposure but, in turn, his on-field presence has failed miserably." He has not played in "what could be considered a reasonable portion of games in return for the huge investment that has been made for his talents." But MLS is "now healthy enough that the only real effect is a few red faces." The lack of Beckham "cannot detrimentally affect the fan bases in the cities of Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York or even Los Angeles," nor will it "affect the success of Vancouver, Portland or Montreal once they enter the league." James: "This situation is a good thing. It is a clear sign that the days of signing a soccer icon with a media presence should not be a prerequisite for the future success of Major League Soccer" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27).

ONE DOOR CLOSES... In L.A., Grahame Jones writes the likelihood of Beckham missing the entire '10 season "could lead to some intriguing possibilities for the Galaxy and its owner, AEG." MLS "has to be convinced that Beckham's likely unavailability for the entire 2010 season should allow the Galaxy to acquire another designated player in his absence." If the league permits the team to add another DP, it "would open the door for such stars as AC Milan's Ronaldinho or Real Madrid's Raul to come to Los Angeles this summer." The Galaxy could keep both Beckham and the new DP in '11 and "still stay under the MLS salary cap" if it sells F Landon Donovan to EPL club Everton after the '10 season (L.A. TIMES, 4/27).

ANOTHER DOOR OPENS: ESPN THE MAGAZINE's Doug McIntyre notes MLS has "long maintained that it wants to be counted among the best leagues in the world," and recent "European developments -- no EPL squads in the Champions League semis, signs that more stars are heading to Spain, financial woes plaguing the EU -- prove just how quickly the game can change." MLS may be a "potential beneficiary of this power shift." With 16 teams playing this season, and two more joining in '11, MLS is "poised to nearly double in size since 2004 and pull within striking distance of the 20-team contingent found in most European leagues." In addition, the city of Houston recently approved plans for a $95M soccer stadium, MLS' 11th soccer-specific venue, and the "new digs don't just help MLS inch toward profitability; they also enable the league to present a more attractive product, one that resembles the global variety in both appearance and intensity" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 5/3 issue).

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