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Soccer MLS

Are the Galaxy Better Off Without Beckham?

Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

I have already alluded to this topic before in one of my previous articles about the possibility of Kaka joining the Red Bulls in the near future and becoming a David Beckham. I have found that recently — and by recently I mean this past season — the Englishman has looked like he doesn’t belong in the LA Galaxy‘s starting 11 anymore. What brought this to my attention was the recent loss to Real Salt Lake on October 6th. Michel Platini said that a goal scored against is created by a succession of errors. It sometimes only takes one error and next think you known the ball is in the back of your goal. These goals can be caused by players getting beat, poor marking, a player making a bad pass or simply giving possession away with a poor shot from range.

In Beckham’s case, he was stuck up field trying to win the ball back in this rivalry match.  Real Salt Lake’s defenders had the ball ten or twenty yards inside their own half and it didn’t look like the Galaxy were going to get the ball back any time soon. The English central midfielder must have got some kind of an energy boost and decided to move up field to apply some pressure on RSL. I don’t know if he thought he was ten years younger and in his head he still had the stamina to run back on defense but from what I can see he is just a veteran player still struggling with his Achilles tendon injury from a few years ago. He got what he deserved, after leaving a nice big gap in the middle of the pitch Fabian Espindola  finished a beautiful RSL dummied passing sequence.

We can all agree that he was and in some ways still is a fantastic player because of his free kick abilities but should the Galaxy be accommodating for him? They built around him but how long can he be the face of this team? My answer is no but this is from a pure football standpoint. I noticed that when Becks is on the pitch everyone accommodates to him which disadvantages LA. Beckham normally plays the central midfield in a more defensive position. He does not do any defensive dirty work, he just receives most of the passes and sends the ball to one of the two strikers who will gladly fight for that beautiful lofted ball that many have talked about over the years. He is a fantastic play-maker but this sequence has become very repetitive and is very poor in a soccer sense. It shows no creativity and it doesn’t showcase the talent of players like Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan or Juninho and this is why they were so average in  March and April.  They played this aerial game for the first part of the season until Bruce Arena, Galaxy head coach, developed a “prettier” way of playing on the ground instead. By playing on the ground they keep possession and have dominated other teams like Toronto FC. It really shows when a team has taken the time to improve their tactics on the training ground and we can see this trough the fluidity of LA’s passing. His injury in August really allowed the Galaxy to shine and Juninho dealt with the set pieces just as well as Beckham did.

The problem is that by playing more like Barcelona imposes a full team effort: which means all 11 players have to make runs to support each other. This is what modern football has become and it feeds off the concept of Total Football developed in Holland. I will talk about this soccer concept in another article probably during the MLS off-season. Unless the British icon can undo all of his injuries I don’t think he can be  truly be involved in the game. However, he still is the face of the LA Galaxy, the MLS and Adidas. These entities all need Beckham to keep playing so they can keep making profits.