Zinedine Zidane to the Galaxy? The rumors now are just too numerous to ignore: according to reports in Italy and the U.S., the France national team legend is in talks with Major League Soccer over a possible move to L.A. to play alongside David Beckham. Pending Zidane's decision to return to professional soccer, of course-the midfield wizard has repeatedly said he intends to stay retired.
Nevertheless, Ian Plenderleith, in a column for USSoccerPlayers.com, warns that the possible addition of Zidane to the L.A. Galaxy paints a worryingly reminiscent picture to the New York Cosmos of the erstwhile North American Soccer League. As exciting as the prospect of having David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Zinedine Zidane on the same field sounds, this is exactly the path of the NASL's Cosmos, who fielded a team comprised of Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and Pele. We all know what happened to the league from there: rapid expansion beyond the league's means led to an eventual collapse.
Sure, these are different times. MLS is on more solid ground than the NASL-it will survive with or without Zidane-but Plenderleith worries that L.A. would dominate MLS media coverage. One could argue it's already doing that, with the exception of the New York Red Bulls. But isn't that what MLS wanted anyway-to have its strongest franchises in the two biggest soccer cities in the U.S? Wouldn't that also raise the profile of the whole league, lifting attendances and making MLS highlights on SportsCenter all the more frequent? Sure, but history has a way of repeating itself, and as Plenderleith points out, the NASL eventually bankrupted itself trying to keep up with the spending power and media influence of the Cosmos.