David, David, where for art thou David

“Just when Beckham is supposed to return is unknown, even to Galaxy officials”

The farce that has surrounded the whole David Beckham potential move back to England has mostly passed the residents of LA by.  You see David is no longer front page news out here.  Despite his boyish good looks, and model wife (Not my words you have to understand) the paparazzi no longer stalk his and Posh’s every move, rummage through their bins or pay blondes to try and seduce him (allegedly).  After all Los Angeles is home to real stars, with real personalities and real scandal.

But people forget that the Galaxy are more than just one player.  In fact they are one of the most successful MLS clubs in terms of honours won.  And it is worth noting that they won these honours prior to Sir David arriving in 2007 as the MLS’s most expensive player ever.  They have won the MLS title twice, been runners-up four times and won the Western Conference title on seven occasions.  In 2000 they won the North American equivalent of the Champions League, the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

The past few years have been disappointing to say the least.  Is this down to the “Beckham” factor?  Was far too much emphasis and resources put onto one player at the detriment of the rest of the team?  He made his debut in July 2007 in a sell out game versus Chelsea, where most of Hollywood’s B and C-list celebrities sat waiting for time outs, over time and slam dunks.  But since then crowds have fallen as he simply hasn’t performed to the level of the hype.  His loan deals to AC Milan which have included an extended stay in Italy whilst the MLS season started coupled with a serious Achilles injury sustained out there last season have hardly endeared him to the fans.

The new season is five weeks away and this week saw the start of the training camp in Carson City, a few miles south of Los Angeles International Airport.  The media focus was not on the absence of Beckham but on the arrival of this seasons “marquee” player, Juan Pablo Angel who has signed on from New York Red Bulls where he averaged over a goal every other game.  Even the rest of the squad are non plused by Beckham’s absence.

“I would normally say yeah, but every year we’ve spent significant time without David, whether it’s been injuries or he’s been away,” said Landon Donovan, when asked if it mattered whether Beckham was going to miss time with the team. “This team knows how to gel quickly and David conversely does a good job of coming into the team. The expectation is to have him back relatively soon”

The MLS is wide open in 2011.  In fact no team has been able to dominate in the past decade, with seven teams having won the championship.  This season will be no different as clubs such as Seattle Sounders, now in their third season in the top level wanting to build on their impressive opening campaign, and they will be looking over their shoulders at new franchise the Portland Timbers.  With their new stadium now bedded down, New York Red Bulls will be hoping for a better season than last with Thierry Henry looking for one last horaah.

One thing is for sure, the MLS is building a serious fan base.  Last season for the first time the MLS frequently attracted bigger average crowds on a game day than the NBA and Major League Ice Hockey and continue to grow as you can see from the table here.  By moving away from the media hype of big name players and focusing on home grown talent teams will be successful, and with success in the US comes money.  And that is what US sport is all about.

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