David Beckham (and by extension, MLS, Alexi Lalas and the L.A. Galaxy) have much to prove next year following the global icon's disappointing first season in Major League Soccer. At the end of his five total years as a player in the American league, there will no doubt be an asterisk next to 2007, the year in which Becks missed most of the games available to him through a series of injuries.
His off-field impact was fantastic, but there's no doubting it sputtered considerably after Aug. 29, when the 32-year-old twisted his knee. As many pundits warned, Beckham's impact at the end of the day will come down to his performances on the soccer field. For 2007, that impact "was hard to quantify," says the L.A. Daily News' Steven Dilbeck -- but the cold, hard numbers are as follows: five league games, zero wins, two draws, three losses, zero goals and two assists. Indeed, you could argue that the Galaxy looked better in his absence -- the team's record would certainly indicate that.
Indeed, the 22 minutes Becks played in the 1-1 draw against New York and the 32 minutes he played in the 1-0 loss to Chicago were unremarkable. Had he scored or assisted a winning goal then we'd all be singing a different tune, but these are the margins by which success is measured in soccer. The Galaxy's MLS season is now over, but as Dilbeck says, "the Beckham questions remain unanswered." Will the hype be back next season? Will he perform? Does the team need another impact player to help him perform? Answers next April.