In 2007 things were beginning to change. The online casino industry, spearheaded by websites such as SuperCasino, was slowly altering the gambling landscape with their live roulette wheels – which you can click here to see – and rolling online cash bonuses.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama was about to mount his campaign for the presidency with Hilary Clinton snapping at his heels. Not to mention that David Beckham, the ultimate star of English football, had decided to travel across the Atlantic to play for LA Galaxy, a struggling team within America’s under-acknowledged soccer league.
Beckham’s decision to leave European football titan Real Madrid for the obscure LA Galaxy was met with confusion and cynicism from critics. Many believed that Beckham, nearing the end of his football career, had jumped before he was pushed and had promptly swam to the nearest, most lucrative, lifeboat.
Whilst it cannot be denied that Beckham’s career at LA Galaxy never fully escaped this cynicism and criticism, and often Beckham did little to help the situation, he did still contribute to the team. Therefore, now that Beckham is enjoying a retirement basked in the glow of a career well done, we thought it was time to look back at his time with LA Galaxy in a more objective way and see if the criticism directed towards him was justified.
Naturally, the main point of discussion regarding Beckham’s signing to LA Galaxy was regarding his salary. Whilst reports, aided somewhat by Beckham’s always publicity hungry representatives, initially claimed that the English striker would be paid over $200 million, it was eventually revealed that Beckham had signed a 5-year contract worth $32.5 million dollars. Whilst Beckham’s future contributions on pitch were still debated, it couldn’t be denied that – if nothing else – the former Manchester-United player’s presence alone was making back his salary.
Just by signing Beckham, LA Galaxy were able to sign a 5-year sponsorship deal with Herbalife, worth $20 million dollars. Moreover, the club welcomed 11,000 new season ticket holders in the period immediately after the announcement of Beckham’s signing and Galaxy Jersey sales rocketed to a record-breaking 250,000. Even if it was yet to be seen if the ageing, and injured, Beckham would preform at his best on pitch, it couldn’t be argued that he had provided exposure to American soccer that it had never seen before.
However, whilst Beckham’s powers off-pitch remained undiminished, his on-pitch performance for LA Galaxy was severely hampered by injury and absence throughout his time with the team. It soon became apparent, during the first few months of his debut-season, that Beckham’s occasional substitute appearance and presence on the bench was designed to distract from the reality of his injured left-ankle, that prohibited him from training full-time.
Whilst Beckham did eventually recover and join the team on a more regular basis , leading them to a place in the North American Superliga Final, he was soon injured again. A sprained medial collateral ligament sidelined Beckham, with the exception of one match, for the rest of the season. His debut season at LA Galaxy consisting of only eight matches with one goal scored.
Beckham’s injury plagued season was respectfully handled by fans. However, his decision to loan himself to Milan immediately following his recovery was met with a much more hostile reception. On his return to LA Galaxy fans held up signs saying ‘Go home Fraud’ and ‘Part-time player’. However, despite this rocky beginning, Beckham had a much more successful season with LA Galaxy that saw him play much more regularly.
During this season the team rose to first in the Western Conference and had resounding victories over the Houston Dynamos amongst others. However, soon after, Beckham announced his plans to return to Milan again. Beckham promptly injured himself mid-way through his loan and required surgery. He returned to LA Galaxy in September 2010 and once again was only present within a substitute role for his first few games.
The rest of Beckham’s time at LA galaxy was a mixture of brilliant individual performances and questionable dedication to the American team. Whilst he assisted the team in winning successive Western Conference titles and the 2012 MLS Cup, there were also rumours surrounding Beckham training with Tottenham Hotspur and LA Galaxy’s refusal to let the striker go on loan again. Whilst Beckham did end his LA Galaxy career on a high, helping them win the MLS cup, he also announced he would be terminating his contract with the team early, despite earlier stating otherwise, in order to play for Paris St Germain.
This final act sums up Beckham’s time at LA Galaxy. Whilst his skill and experience allowed him to sometimes rise to the occasion, to often both his body and mind were slightly unwilling to allow him to do so. It is doubtful that Beckham entered his time with LA Galaxy expecting to so quickly, and so often, jump across back to Europe but it is undeniable that he appeared to miss the European football scene and perhaps felt he had left it to soon.
Whilst Beckham’s time on pitch was not spectacular, his presence did bring international football fans’ attention around to American soccer and that is something to celebrate him for.