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Beckham Circus Counterporductive for MLS

Major League Soccer in many ways has gotten what it asked for when it signed David Beckham to a ridiculous contract in January. By making the league appear desperate for a savior when it need not have, rearranging the schedule to showcase Beckham and making one of its worst teams the symbol of the league abroad, MLS has appeared to this point to strike out on all three counts. That’s a pity because this season from a quality of play standpoint has been the best in the history of the league. Contrary to the spin that comes from the league, the level of play has NOT consistently improved throughout the twelve years of MLS’ existence. In fact I would strongly argue the league’s play was of a much higher standard in 2000 than in 2005. Not only do I believe that is the case, but results of MLS clubs in international competitions and in friendlies versus clubs from bigger and more prestigious leagues bears out that reality.

Despite its bluster about constant improvement in the league, I suspect Don Garber and the brass of MLS realized that they had to make great strides in 2007, especially following the fashionable bashing of MLS in the press after the US bowed out of World Cup 2006 with just one draw and two losses. MLS made the moves it had to acquiring quality internationals like Juan Toja, Pablo Richetti, Guillermo Baros Schelotto, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Paulo Wanchope, Luciano Emilio, Fred, Juan Pablo Angel, Carlos Marinelli and Abel Xavier this season. These signings are a big reason why MLS 2007 has been a pleasure to watch, and the aforementioned names represent the best collective group of international signings by MLS since at least 2000, and perhaps ever in the league’s history. This is in addition to the Superliga Tournament which showcased MLS’ clubs in an ultra competitive international competition where the league’s clubs more than passed the test of demonstrating the quality of MLS in 2007. Additionally, the league is in better financial standing than ever before, with a lucrative TV contract (negotiated before David Beckham signed) and more and more Soccer specific stadiums being erected around the league.

But in a major marketing folly, based once again on winning acceptance with the anti soccer sports establishment rather than winning respect and acceptance among Latino and European soccer fans in the US, the MLS has put everything on Beckham. That’s too much for one player to burden, albeit a world class player of unmatched professionalism and personal character like David Beckham. Nor is it fair, considering MLS has done what it had to do in order to improve its product with or without David Beckham. Now with Beckham injured and not playing in front of sold out stadiums on the road, MLS has become a laughing stock and has given additional fodder to the anti soccer sports media establishment who bashed Beckham (without knowing anything about the man himself) and MLS with the precision of well planned air strike on a defenseless city. By making Beckham, and not the ultimate improvement of the league the issue, MLS has helped to dig its own grave with the US Sports snob establishment.

David Beckham ultimately will play and contribute to the continued improvement in the league’s quality. But the circus atmosphere that surrounded his arrival and the way his signing way handled by Major League Soccer ultimately has been counterproductive to the continued growth of the league and the sport in the United States.

This entry was posted in David Beckham, Leagues: Major League Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

15 Responses to Beckham Circus Counterporductive for MLS

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree!

  2. Whiny Yanks says:

    Typical post by someone trying to over-hype MLS and claim the standard of play is good. Not one single European league is bad as MLS, including second and third divisions. As for the players you named Xavier, busted for drugs and Marinelli a total washout by 20 are the only names I have ever heard of. Oh year, Wanchope also who hasn’t played at the top level since 2003 or so. The rest I have never ever heard of, and think once again US Soccer and MLS promoters try and make the low quality internationals in the league look like world class players when in fact they are come from substandard leagues themselves.

  3. tyduffy says:

    Obviously whiny yanks has never seen a Scottish Premier League match

    I think its too early to tell with Beckham. It’s not their fault that he is hurt. No matter what league or team, if you have the chance to get the most recognizable player in the world you have to jump at that chance.

  4. DC United Fan says:

    Whiny Yanks, Have you ever watched any of the leagues in Scandanavia? You may want to note that a number of guys who were marginal players in MLS have made a nice living in those leagues. Also, Wanchope scored twice in the Germany 2006 according to Yahoo! Sports, so unless that website is wrong, you are dead wrong about him not playing at the top level.

  5. Kartik says:

    Whiny Yanks, you have never heard of Blanco or Schelotto?

    Schelotto is the most decorated player in the history of Argentina’s domestic league having won numerous league, Copa Lib and Copa Mercanorte title with Boca Juniors.

    As for Blanco, the fact you haven’t heard of him indicates you are a typical English fan whose world does not extend outside the EPL.

  6. Whiny Yanks says:

    The Argentine League is the same sort of rubbish as MLS, so I am not impressed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    whiny yanks,

    Thank you for showing us you have no credibility from which to speak of.

  8. Kartik says:

    If the Argentine League is rubbish then why do European leagues contantly mine the league for talent?

  9. Liverpool John says:

    I live in the United States and could care less about Major League Soccer. The names of the players you mentioned as stars above are laughable. Most are utter rubbish who only the most dedicated MLS fan would have never heard of.

    The first four names on your list are Juan Toja, Pablo Richetti, Guillermo Baros Schelotto, Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Of these four, I have only heard of Blanco and that is because he flopped in Spain. I don’t consider Mexican football of any consequence and the Mexican players failures in Europe like Borgetti at Bolton have proven that time and time again.

    The next group is even more laughable.

    Paulo Wanchope, Luciano Emilio, Fred, Juan Pablo Angel, Carlos Marinelli and Abel Xavier

    Wanchope hasn’t played top flight football in three years and hasn’t been heard of since leaving Eastlands for Qatar or some place like that. Emilio and Fred sound like characters on some bad Spanish Language soap opera. Angel? Are you kidding? This guy was a complete bust with Villa after they paid a ton for him. Marinelli? Even funnier. The new Maradona as he was hailed was out of the EPL by the time he was 22. He failed in Portugal as well. Abel Xavier? Okay, he was a good player, too good for MLS until he got busted for performance enhancing drugs. That’s the only reason a league like MLS which is the equal to League Two or Conference in England could get a player of his one time stature. As for Golden Balls, don’t you people realize he is in semi retirement and he never had any intention of straining himself to play in MLS?

    I’m tired of American fans trying to force us to watch a clearly inferior product, and clowns like Alexi Lalas making pronouncements that MLS is some sort of top world league. It never will be, and the quicker it goes away and all the top Americans play in Europe, and American TV focuses on the EPL the better for all of us.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Liverpool John, meet whiny yanks in the ‘I have no credibility from which to speak of’ department.

  11. Sams Army says:

    The eurosnobbery here is amazing. I’m unhappy how the Beckham thing is turning out and Lalas and Yallop are ultimately to blame for playing him in that meaningless friendly when he was clearly hurt. Nonetheless, these euro snobs who haven’t heard of Blanco and Schelotto are exactly what we as fans of the US National Team and MLS are fighting. The Brits will always bash us.

  12. Kartik says:

    Liverpool John,

    You state you live in the US and could care less about MLS. That is your choice. But please don’t come here and disparage those of us who support our domestic league. We have never claimed it is on the same level as the EPL but to compare it to the Conference is just plan ignorant.

    You stated Mexican Football is of little consequence. In addition to the excellent points made above about the quality of the Mexican League I would point out Stutgart who won the Bundesliga started two Mexicans. Again to base the reputation of Mexican Football on one player who didn’t fit at Bolton is unfair. What if I judged English Football on Chris Woods, Mark Wilson, Steve Howey or Steve Guppy four English players who flopped in MLS after having semi decent careers in the EPL before completely flopping in MLS?

    Wanchope is an injury fill in. He isn’t someone Chicago is really counting on, the way they are counting on Blanco BTW.

    To claim the Argentine League is a poor product is just ignorant. The players you claim you have not heard of are mostly Latin players that many who do not follow South American football may not have heard of. But Juan Toja, Schelotto, Richetti and Blanco are quality by any standard.

    Yes, the Dutch and US leagues tend to both be “seller” leagues. But I’ll tell you one thing, if I wanted my players developed I’d send them to Holland or Germany or even keep them in MLS before sending them to England, where youth development has taken a back seat in the past several years.

    Liverpool John, I hope you continue to post here but do it in a more reasoned and respectful manner.

  13. Sams Army says:

    K, that was a good response but why did you waste your time engaging the eurosnob jack ass. He’ll never agree with you and is just another swarmy arrogant brit unhappy that the best player they have is playing here and trying to insult us and bring us down. Ignore him from now on.

  14. Anonymous says:

    BECKS IS BENT FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    We tried to ignore you Sams but it obviously doesn’t work!

    At least you’ve come around……

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