Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
2. MY VIEW: Becks would be a bust in MLS
October 25th, 2006 1:06AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

The rumors swirl anew about David Beckham joining MLS sooner rather than later, and more than a few journalists and such have jumped on the bandwagon, insisting a Pele-like publicity tsunami will sweep MLS from the niche netherworld into a pantheon of glory.

Crock, pure and simple. Pele, just a few years removed from winning a third World Cup, remember, drew soccer fans, and applied a rock-star celebrity sheen, to a low-rent league.

In mid-70s America, Pele was glimpsed every year or so in friendlies, on tour with Santos or Brazil. Newspaper and magazine photos, occasional news clips, and closed-circuit television coverage of major events like the World Cup featured the handsome, high cheek-boned face that people in every corner of the world knew as well as their own families.

Wealthy socialites, pop-culture pundits, and bevies of teenage girls might seek out MLS stadiums for the first time in their lives - once, maybe twice -- and perhaps a few die-hard Beckites would flock as well, but anyone who compares him to Pele, in any manner, is sadly misguided.

Only two players have moved the needle at the gate to any great degree in MLS: Jorge Campos, the idol of a soccer-mad nation in his heyday who just happened to have a built-in fan base of about 40 million; and Freddy Adu, who drew numbers in his first season but eventually proved not to be a soccer version of LeBron James because, unlike James, Adu wasn't physically or psychologically equipped to play with men nor likely to score 15 points a game and occasionally light up the highlight shows with a slam-dunk or coast-to-coast crossover.

None of the arguments harped by the Beckham Brigade make sense.

Theory: He's a world-famous player idolized in many countries including his own.

Fact: English and European fans know he's on the downswing and at the last World Cup his only shining moment was being named Man of the Match against T&T (Whoo-hoo!). I don't envision thousands of Union Jacks at Toyota Park or Crew Stadium when Becks struts into town.

Theory: Becks triggers increased TV ratings on ESPN2.

Fact: Unless his team plays every other Thursday night, those predictions seem ludicrous. There would be pops of publicity, sure, but as stated, soccer fans know Becks ain't great shakes, and the curiosity factor doesn't entail great staying power. Crowds in America to see Real Madrid were lured by the team, not the Brit, and fans were dazzled by Barcelona: Robinho or Ronaldinho, yes, Beckham, no.

Theory: By signing Beckham, MLS will encourage other Euro stars to follow.

Fact: Did that happen with Lothar Matthaeus, Youri Djorkaeff, Mo Johnston, or Roberto Donadoni? Look at the 2006 list of European imports: Markus Schopp, Paul Dalglish, Dave van den Bergh. Hardly a Who's Who.

It's seductive to read and see the fabulous and marvelous life lived by Beckham and wife Victoria, and believe this allure will light up MLS stadiums. The celebrity universe has gone supernova since Pele's time but as the Adu Era confirmed, the shelf life is notoriously short and fiendishly fickle.

Pele was 100 times the soccer player, and the celebrity, that is David Beckham. Pele was the right move at the right time, and Beckham is no Pele.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
U.S. U-18s split two-game series with Germany    
The U.S. under-18 men's national team dropped a 3-2 decision to  3-2 to Germany's U-18s to ...
MLS Trade Central: Friday's deals    
After two disastrous years in England, Brek Shea is back in MLS, signing with expansion club ...
MLS lines up exciting tripleheader for first Sunday    
MLS will open its 2015 season on March 6 when the defending champion LA Galaxy hosts ...
Video Pick: Alex Meier on Fire     
The leading scorer in the Europe's highest scoring league is a player you may not have ...
What They're Saying: Chris Wondolowski    
"I'm not over it. I'm not sure I'll ever get over it. [Pause] I actually think ...
U.S. U-20s win at San Pedro Sula    
San Pedro Sula is no easy place to play as the USA (2-1 loser in the ...
Press and Lloyd combine for all seven in U.S. win    
After a tie and loss in its first two games at the Torneio Internacional da Brasilia, ...
What They're Saying: Juergen Klopp    
"He took a wrong turn at some point. But everything is back to normal now. He ...
TV Report: MLS expansion teams ink local deals    
As expected, New York City FC has entered into a multi-year agreement with YES Network, while ...
Timbers land Wake's Vidovich to run T2    
The Portland Timbers, who dipped into the college ranks to get head coach Caleb Porter, have ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives