Throughout his injury- and loan-riddled Major League Soccer career, David Beckham has maintained one standard that’s kept us more or less in his corner: Whenever he was able to play, he was exceptionally willing to do so, competing with genuine fire and working extremely hard for his teammates.
We admired that quality and thought it showed a baseline respect for both MLS and his Galaxy teammates. Because of it, we generally gave him a pass on all the stuff that ticked off the majority of MLS fans during the past few seasons.
But now, with yesterday’s news that Golden Balls is going to stay in Norf Lahndan to continue training with Tottenham, instead of returning to LA as planned today to join, you know, his real team in preseason, well, we’re with the legions of MLS fans he’s angered.
Beckham says he’ll rejoin the Galaxy on Feb. 24, just three weeks before their 2011 MLS opener. What message does that send to his teammates, his coaches, and LA fans? We’re not sure exactly, but we know it’s not, You, LA Galaxy, are my No. 1 priority. I am very eager to start working toward winning an MLS title in 2011 and getting to know and cohere with my teammates, some of whom, like the great striker Juan Pablo Angel, are brand new to me. Or something like that. You get the picture.
That’s aggravating enough, but there’s also a sneaky, non-straight-shooting quality to this deal—a quality, by the way, that was present in his first loan stint at AC Milan, which was negotiated on the sly. He started pushing for a proper loan deal to Tottenham right from the start, and when the Galaxy said no, he kept right on pushing, behind the scenes. (The only thing that prevented it, apparently, was a problem regarding insurance.) Then he left it open-ended about when he would return. Then he said Feb. 9, and now he’s saying Feb. 24.
And today’s news—curiously timed—that Tottenham and LA are planning a “strategic alliance” does little to soften the insult. We doubt Beckham is staying longer to finalize the details of that arrangement.
The Galaxy, in the meantime, played the Portland Timbers in a preseason match yesterday (it ended 1-1). They play San Jose on Sunday and then embark on a 10-day training stint in Arizona. Becks is taking a pass on all of that. And why? Well, the most popular answer is that he wants as much time as possible in front of England coach Fabio Capello’s watchful eye, the better to increase his chances of making England’s Euro 2012 squad.
So look for him to try to sign with Spurs (or another Premier League side) after his MLS contract expires in December. Then he’ll just have to prove that a 37-year-old (by Euro 2012) winger with his effective, but one-dimensional qualities is indispensable to mighty England’s chances at the tournament.
Assuming they qualify, of course.