David Beckham has announced that MLS Cup 2012 will be his last competitive appearance with the LA Galaxy. The Englishman has been a member of the team for the past six seasons and helped them earn three appearances in the MLS Cup final, having won one with an opportunity for a second on December 1st when the Galaxy host the Houston Dynamo.
Beckham has stated he will not be retiring, “what’s next, I haven’t decided yet. I still feel like I have something left in me and I still feel like I can give a lot to the game on the field.” There have been rumors swirling around that he might by joining the Australian A-League. He also may be looking to return to Europe with PSG reportedly interested in signing him again after going hard after him last winter. Or Beckham might choose to expand his personal brand to a country like Brazil or China.
Beckham said, “I signed a two year extension last year with an option in between and I felt it was the right time to step down as a player here.”
“I might be stopping as a player but my commitment to MLS and my commitment to the Galaxy won’t change.” Part of Beckham’s original contract allowed him to become an owner of an MLS franchise. The Galaxy are up for sale as part of AEG. AEG’s owner has put the group of for sale which includes Staples Center, LA Live, LA Kings, LA Galaxy, Home Depot Center, and the effort for Farmer’s Field in Downtown LA. Beckham could become a Galaxy owner, or he could look to be a part of MLS’s 20th franchise, with the major speculation being a new franchise being set up in New York to form a rivalry with the NY Red Bulls.
Beckham scored 18 goals and tallied 40 assists in 98 regular season matches. He also added eight playoff assists to his name as a Galaxy player.
His time as a member of the team has been very lucrative for the club both financially and in terms of on-field play. The Galaxy have won two Supporter’s Shields, and been to three MLS Cup finals in his six years. In four seasons the Galaxy qualified for the playoffs and have been able to schedule games against top European competition every summer.
Beckham debuted for the club on July 21, 2007 after playing for world heavyweights Manchester United and Real Madrid. The first years were difficult for the club as they did not have much defense and were unable to make the playoffs in 2007 or 2008. Things were not always easy as Beckham sometimes seemed to put himself above his team or his teammates by going on loans in the offseason and clashing with Landon Donovan.
However, he has been a true part of the growth of the game in the United States. His status as one of the most famous soccer players in the world has elevated MLS and his signing created the Designated Player rule, which has allowed clubs across the league to sign players such as Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Kenny Miller, Kris Boyd, Freddie Ljungberg, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Tim Cahill, Frederico Higuain, and Juan Pablo Angel. These are players who have won Champions League titles and cups across the world who came to MLS because of the example that David Beckham set.
Much credit is due to Bruce Arena. Who put Beckham in a great position and surrounded him with players who could get on the end of his immaculate service and partner him with midfielders who could mask Beckham’s deficiencies. This has proven to work for the Galaxy as they have become the most dominant franchise in MLS over the past four seasons.
Beckham has played a huge role himself in recruiting players like Robbie Keane and Christian Wilhelmsson into the team, but his play on the field has been spectacular at times: scoring from across midfield against the Kansas City Wizards or off a corner kick against Chicago. He has taken some spectacular shots from long distance both in the run of play and from set pieces. He thoroughly deserved an MLS Best XI selection last year after recording 15 assists. His pinpoint service from set pieces was such a vital part of the team’s attacking success on their run to the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup in 2011.
David Beckham will leave behind a long legacy of play and his work in improving the profile of MLS will live on for a long time. His contributions cannot be measured by statistics. The Galaxy were lucky to have him, time to make their last game with his service count by bringing home another MLS Cup.