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Beckham: Good for MLS? For Humanity?

Early Becks reactions: Grant Wahl at SI says it's instant credibility for MLS, Americans immediately start naming their children Cruz, USA Today's Beau Dure gives incredible piles of links, and this guy at NBCSports is asking whether Beckham can save American soccer, which I guess is the question of the day but seems a bit odd. Of course, that guy also slays kittens, so what do you expect:

MLS was given a gift horse with Freddie Adu but completely dropped the ball. Adu's signing was the biggest thing, until now, to happen to MLS. He was an American wonderkid, as likeable and as marketable as they come. Instead of making him the face of the league, they buried him on the bench at D.C. United and buried themselves in the public consciousness. Think the Washington Wizards would have benched Michael Jordan when he un-retired because he might not have been one of their top five players? [Ummm, other names on 2001 roster: Hamilton, Whitney, Alexander, Lue, Davis, Laettner, Jones, Nesby, etc. - Ed.]

Hopefully, MLS has learned its lesson and David Beckham will become as familiar to the American public as he is to the rest of the world.

Shudder. Shudder again. Anyhow, many hardcore MLS fans, such as a Bog reader who just e-mailed, will take nearly the exact opposite approach:

MLS was bamboozled and outfoxed by the Beckham media machine. Don Garber you were played and now the world knows it. Think about what this does to current MLS fans and players. This is a slap in the face to every hard-working American player that keeps this league going by playing their hearts out game after game, season after season. How should Ben Olsen or Bobby Boswell (who while making league minimum scored on Chelsea) feel about this? Or Clint Dempsey? How will this improve league play over the long haul for those of us that already watch every game? After the first season all he will be is a constantly injured, over aged, has been that parties too much with the Hollywood elite. The MLS has not bought respect. This is a gimmick and like all gimmicks will come back to get us.

Then there's this guy, who manages to be both skeptical of the signing (like the hardcore fans) and dismissive of American soccer (like the wiseacre analysts):

And as for Major League Soccer? They're the ones who cut the check in order to make this happen, after all--how do they stand to benefit?

Well, they won't gain any more international respect, that's for sure. Everyone outside of America knows that Beckham is a has-been. They won't see a major increase in quality of play, as Beckham is only one man. Stadiums will fill up once each season as Beckham makes his tour around the league--but that won't pay back even a fraction of his outrageous signing fee. In the end, MLS will succeed for the same boring reasons everyone always cites: a growing Hispanic population, a media looking for the "next big thing," etc. etc. etc.

The real winner here is David Beckham--and whoever gets paid to be his American publicist. Nobody in Los Angeles knows that lucky man or woman's name...yet.

Well, anyhow, it'll be someone else for DCU fans to make fun of, so that's always nice. And it should also be a positive development for bloggers looking for public spectacles. Plus, I can't wait to see what Becks makes of the visitors' locker room at RFK.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 11, 2007; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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