David Beckham: A Legend in his Own Mind

Or at least in this self-serving press release I’m reprinting in full below the Galaxy just released telling us all what we’ve known for hours anyway: That Beckham is back, although of course, he never really left.

Read on and you’ll discover just how great Beckham has been for the Galaxy, soccer in general and the escalation of MLS franchise fees (yup, he gets credit for that, too).

Naturally it helps when a press release somehow manages to quote no fewer than two people who work for Beckham, conveniently ignore the ruinous 9-14-7 and 8-13-9 2007 and 2008 seasons (his first two years that sported the worst records in club history) the club has yet to recover from (Galaxy officials cite them as the reason the dominant club weren’t selling out Home Depot Center with any great regularity last season) or the catastrophic reign of former coach Ruud Gullit (who was hand-picked by Beckham’s management team).

Aside from those reasons, as well as his frequent absences through loan spells and injury, his inability to actually run anymore and questions about whether he can repeat his 2011 performance (which even Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena called Beckham’s first real season in the league) he’s been great.

A press conference is set for 2 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center, incidentally.

Still, readers of this blog overwhelmingly agree with the Galaxy’s to re-sign Beckham, incidentally (and to clarify I do, too, at least at a reduced salary at his age).

But this loooong press release is more than a little over the top, IMHO:

CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, January 18, 2012) – The LA Galaxy announced today that the club has re-signed midfielder David Beckham to a two-year contract, extending his stay with the MLS Cup Champions. Beckham, who had the best season of his five-year MLS career in 2011, helped lead the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup title since 2005.

Since joining the club as the first Designated Player in MLS History, the Galaxy have reached MLS Cup twice and won the Supporters’ Shield twice while also seeing the club reach new heights in terms of international recognition and popularity.

“This was an important decision for me,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “I had many offers from clubs from around the world, however, I’m still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy.”

“I’ve seen first hand how popular soccer is now in the States and I’m as committed as ever to growing the game here,” he added. “My family and I are incredibly happy and settled in America and we look forward to spending many more years here.”

In five years with the Galaxy, Beckham was twice named to the MLS All-Star Team and finished the 2011 season with a career-best 15 assists, earning him a spot on the MLS Best XI. Beckham’s individual success helped translate to team success last season as the club repeated as Supporters’ Shield winners, finishing the season with a 19-5-10 record for 67 points, which were the second most in League history. That form continued into the postseason where the Galaxy won all four of their postseason games, culminating with a 1-0 win over Houston at The Home Depot Center in MLS Cup 2011. Beckham had an assist in that game, just as he did in each of the club’s first three playoffs games, giving him a league-best four postseason assists on the year.

“I am thrilled that David has chosen to re-join the Galaxy, especially as he had numerous options where he could continue his career,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “I felt that he was one of the best players in all of MLS last season and we could not have achieved the success that we did without him. We look forward to trying to replicate that success this season with David once again in a Galaxy uniform.”

In 74 career regular season games in a Galaxy uniform, Beckham has 31 assists to go along with 11 goals with the club going 15-2-4 in the past three seasons when he scored a goal or recorded an assist. Additionally, the 36-year-old has helped lead the Galaxy to the postseason in each of the last three seasons, tallying seven assists in 11 postseason games. The Galaxy also qualified for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in club history last season, with Beckham playing in four of the club’s six games while setting up a pair of goals in the competition.

In addition to Beckham’s on-field success, the former England captain has also had an historic impact on the game in the U.S. and globally. His mid-season arrival in Southern California coincided with the launch of the club’s new logo and colors, strengthening the Galaxy’s reputation in the global game and making the club’s jersey the best-selling in MLS and one of the best in the world.

“There has been much speculation in the past four months on where David was going to play and we did not get caught up in this and remained focused on re-signing him,” said Tim Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG. “David had many options and we are pleased he felt comfortable, not only with our organization but also with Los Angeles, and will remain an important part of our club, our AEG family and our City”.

“The Galaxy had an unbelievable year in 2011, David had a great year individually and the club were deservedly crowned Supporters’ Shield winners and MLS Cup Champions,” added Leiweke. “The 2011 Galaxy team may have been the best club in MLS history and like David, we are focused on repeating that success in 2012 and fielding the most exciting team for our fans.”

“When David and I discussed making the move from Real Madrid to the LA Galaxy back in 2007, our minds were firmly focused on the massive opportunity of helping to grow soccer in the United States,” added Simon Fuller, Beckham’s Business Partner and Manager. “We have made great progress over the past 5 years in raising the profile of soccer domestically and the MLS on a worldwide stage, and we are encouraged by all the results. However, clearly this is an ongoing mission and this new deal confirms our commitment to continuing our journey and making sure the world’s biggest sport, soccer, continues to grow in the world’s most passionate sports loving nation, the USA.”

In the past five years, the Galaxy emerged as a truly international club with worldwide recognition through tours that have drawn record crowds and major sponsors in such countries as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea. Locally, the Galaxy have hosted sellout crowds against international powers such as AC Milan, Barcelona, Boca Juniors, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid, playing in front of more than 330,000 fans at The Home Depot Center, L.A. Coliseum and Rose Bowl in those matches.

Major League Soccer has also experienced exponential growth in the first five years that Beckham has played for the Galaxy, growing from 12 teams in 2006 to 19 teams this season, including the expansion Montreal Impact. In that time, the expansion fee for clubs has quadrupled from $10 million to $40 million, with $170 million being raised in expansion fees since the start of the 2007 MLS season. In that same time, nine new soccer-specific stadiums have been built in Major League Soccer, giving the League a total of 15 in 2012, while average attendance rose to 17,872 last season, making MLS the 10th best attended league in the world.

“What David has accomplished since joining the Galaxy five years ago is truly remarkable,” said Jeff Frasco of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). “While David has been a tremendous ambassador for soccer in the U.S., he has set further goals for himself, both professionally and personally, and we are pleased to be part of the team to help him achieve these and more.”

Beckham and the LA Galaxy will open preseason ahead of the 2012 MLS season next week at The Home Depot Center.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!

    I have said negative things about Becks in the past but anyone who suggests the Galaxy shouldn’t re-sign him is just being bitter. He is certainly one of the better players in MLS even if he is mobility challenged. The real question is, how much did the Galaxy have to shell out for him? I hope he is no longer the highest paid player in MLS. That would be just silly for the third best midfielder on the Galaxy squad last year.

  • Bella

    Wow, in 40+ years of following sports news, I’ve never read a franchise announcement of a 15 million dollar signing that failed to mention the players weaknesses or past failings – this is a shock! Or, this reads about the same as every other press release I’ve ever read about a new hire, in any field for that matter.
    I’ll stick to basing my judgement on what happens on the pitch, which was very nice last season, thank you and we wouldn’t mind two more of the same (anything close would do).

  • Limey

    Jealous and Envy…. Party of two

  • http://www.ericpz.com EricPZ

    Did I read that correctly? He’s played 74 regular season matches with LA in 4 1/2 seasons? If the regular seasons consist of about 30 (it’s changed a bit)then we really only got 2 and a bit seasons from him. I hope AEG managed to get some sort of performance (on the field) clause in there rather than focusing on how many tickets & shirts he sells.

  • http://www.iheartubuntu.com iheartubuntu

    Obviously butts in the stadium mean something, but Im sure merchandise is a big part of the profit for the team. I have been a critic of Becks his first few seasons for being a no show many times, but last season he put his heart into it.

  • Catamount

    The Galaxy have another far better player on the roster than Beckham. His name is Landon Donovan. Any success Beckham has had, and it has been quite scarce with the Galaxy, depends more upon LD than anyone else.

    At Everton on a two month loan right now, LD has been the best player on the roster game in and game out. He dropped into the club Jan 4 and has played 90 minutes ever since. He has been the primary creative force in a very average EPL side and put the team in position to take all three points against Villa.
    On the Galaxy LD has given up his creative attacking role to win balls, transition and cover to make it possible for Beckham to succeed. All the following statements are true when Beckham is NOT ON THE PITCH for the Galaxy over the past 5 years:

    Better record.
    Better goals per game average.
    Better goals against average.
    Better points per game average.

    Bottom line: The Galaxy are a better soccer team without David Beckham on the pitch.
    All credit goes to Arena and Sarachan and the real leaders on the team LD, Berhalter, etc. for figuring out how to win the Cup in spite of Beckham.

    Now we get to watch the G’s accommodate him for another 2 years. We’ll see just how good Bruce and LD are.

  • Ben

    I certainly agree with Nick and Catamount that the Brand swept a lot of facts under the carpet which give a much clearer overall view on his time in MLS and with the G’s. Sure he played well in 2011, but that was a contract year and win or bust on the the Brand narative/legacy. It’s telling how only his agent and agency talk mostly in the press release.

    Sure he still can kick a ball, but in 2012 his focus is the olympics and not the G’s, so is he worth a DP spot on the field (he certainly still is off) and the 335k salary budget hit on the teams roster in such circumstances?

    Specially as we need a replacement for Gonzalez and lost his water carrier and underrated partner Juninho.