The sun will go down on David Beckham’s contract with MLS after the Galaxy’s MLS Cup 2011 clash with Houston, but if the league’s top official had his way, a new sun would rise soon.
“I certainly hope to see him back,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in his State of the League teleconference on Thursday. “I think that he and [Beckham’s agent] and Tim Leiweke at AEG will go through a process after the Cup to try to determine what David’s future is. But I certainly hope to have him back.”
Beckham was also named to the MLS Best XI on Thursday after compiling 16 assists in helping LA claim the Supporters’ Shield and reach MLS Cup. In keeping with his strong season, perhaps his best since joining the Galaxy, Beckham’s Best XI honor was his first.
Due to injuries and loan deals, 2011 was just Beckham’s second full season with the Galaxy. But despite his limited amount of games in 2007, 2009 and 2010, Beckham has produced on the field and the turnstiles.
“David has delivered for us on all aspects of our expectations, both on and off the field," Garber said. "David had a terrific year this year and it would be hard to argue he wasn’t one of the more important players on our field and really contributed to his team and to the league competitively.
“Off the field, he continues to be an important part of what drives some of the popularity of our league both here and around the world. He remains a very popular guy. His presence on the sports pages, but also on the people pages, continues to grow as opposed to wane here in America, and we benefit by that.”
Beckham is also nominated for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, one season after an Achilles tendon injury dashed his dreams of playing in the 2010 World Cup. The injury came during his second loan spell with AC Milan. Along with time spent with Tottenham Hotspur before the 2011 season, Beckham has faced criticism before during his time with the Galaxy as questions about his commitment seemingly often arose.
But Garber said no matter the critiques that rained down on Beckham, the Englishman’s work and presence have been more than highly rated.
“All of us appreciate everything that he’s done,” Garber said. “I don’t think it’s been perfect. I don’t think any relationship is ever perfect. There are certainly some things we might have done a little differently, but all in all it’s been a really great success.”
In what areas has Beckham been successful?
“We measure David’s success very quantitatively,” Garber said. “The Galaxy games on the road have our highest average attendance. With few exceptions, the LA Galaxy are our highest-rated team on television. LA Galaxy kit sales are among our highest. They’re not our highest today, but they certainly were when David came into the league.
“Without a doubt, there’s more attention for David off the sports pages than any other MLS player,” Garber said. “I travel quite a bit outside the United States on soccer-related business. And people seem to ask about two things: They ask about when are the Cosmos coming into Major League Soccer and how’s David Beckham doing.”
Beckham will try and guide the Galaxy to their third MLS Cup title on Nov. 20 against Houston at The Home Depot Center, a feat in which Beckham has had a big hand.
“On the field, too — and this shouldn’t be lost — the Galaxy have the second-best record in MLS history and David’s been on their team since 2007,” Garber said. “He’s helped to drive them not just off the field, but also on the field.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.