04 March 2007

About That Beckham Injury

The LA Galaxy and MLS must have collectively had their hearts skip a few beats today when David Beckham injured his right knee in a match versus Getafe. Club doctors were prepared only to describe it as "an injury to the lateral-internal ligament of the right knee". Madrid's coach, Fabio Capello, said: "It looks serious but I do not want to say how bad until the doctors do the scan." When asked if Beckham was ruled out of the upcoming Bayern match, Capello replied: "Definitely. It is a big blow for everyone." Language like that suggests it's more than just any "injury."

If Beckham's injury really is as serious as it appears to be, the biggest blow would be taken by the Galaxy and MLS. The MLS has banked a lot on the States-side arrival of Beckham - $250 million in salary, the instant recognition and respect for the league, and tons and tons of world-wide attention. Living in Los Angeles I've seen Beckham/Galaxy ads all over the place, trumpeting his arrival. But if Beckham arrives via crutches and leg brace, all the ballyhoo and celebration will have been spent on nothing. With athletics, every game and practice is a risk. All the hoopla and excitement around Beckham only increased the risk with every match he played as a lame-duck teammate with Real Madrid.

The situation at the moment is muddled, and more will be known in the coming days. Just how bad is the injury? Had Beckham already signed the contract? Can MLS get out of it should Beckham prove to be severely injured?

The Galaxy's signing of Beckham was the high point in MLS' history, and a great sign of US Soccer's intent to gain respect on the global level. Despite his growing age and dwindling skills, Beckham is more than just a player. He's a global super star. Guys love him (or hate him - depends on your outlook), and the women dig the looks. He and Posh are truly a power couple. His wattage and drawing power is more than any other player around, even those with vastly more talent (think Ronaldhino or Van Nistlerrooy). MLS took a major leap of faith when they signed Beckham, and the coming days and weeks will indicate just where they land.