The L.A. Galaxy just completed another sorry season in MLS. After making the playoffs for ten consecutive years, the Gals have now failed to advance to the postseason three years in a row. They haven’t just been poor either, they’ve been pitiful.
Now, there’s talk of them losing their two most talented, high profile players: David Beckham and Landon Donovan. Becks is on loan to AC Milan, and the rumor mill is whispering that he may just stay there permanently or opt out of MLS after next season. Donovan, the most physically talented US-born player in my opinion (with apologies to Mr. Rossi), is now on a short trial with Bayern Munich and has (loudly) voiced his desire to move to Europe prior to next year’s season kickoff.
Will they stay or will they go?
I say… Who (really) cares?
The Gals could be better without Beckham and Donovan. It sounds crazy, I know, but I think these two did more harm than good for the Galaxy in 2008. Did they play well at times? Sure, when they showed up. But mostly they were just a distraction and a nightmare for any manager looking to consistently field the same starting lineup.
The big problem with Beckham and Donovan? Well, they are athletes of a certain ilk who like to put their own dreams and desires above those of their squad. Beckham still has some good play in him and he puts the butts in the seats, sure, but it’s unlikely those fans will continue to return year after year to watch the Gals get pummelled. Donovan, like Beckham, is a uniquely talented player who brings in fans, but he will also not be capable of keeping fan interest alive when the “newness” of Becks in MLS is dead and gone and all that is left is a towering pile of losses.
Alexi Lalas, who has never been right about anything other than creative ways to shape facial hair, recently said the Galaxy would never win with Becks and Landycakes (he used their real monikers, naturally) because they were both “me” players, not “we” players. What he meant is that all these two guys care about is raising their own profile in the short term, and not the long term success of their squad. He said L.A.’s season was a failure because it had no real leader, and the two guys who were supposed to be the leaders constantly put themselves before the club.
I can’t believe I am going to say this… but… Alexi… Lalas… is… (gulp!)… right!
Donovan and Beckham missed a combined 12 games this season because they were chasing their own pursuits. Mr. Beckham, I understand you love to play for England. It’s your reason for living it seems. You cherish it, and I get that. But, you, sir, are no longer really worthy of getting PT for the ENG Nats. Theo Walcott makes you look like you are standing still out there. It’s time to hang up the national team cleats. Capello, stop indulging Mr. Beckham. You know as well as I do that he won’t be there in 2010, so why drag out this divorce any longer.
While I can understand why Donovan (unlike Beckham) was needed for many WC qualifiers, I think he could have worked harder to make it back in time for league games. I can recall seeing him on TV all dressed to the nines in a luxury suite with his smoking hot wife @ one LA game the night after a qualifier. He said he was too tired to play, but he looked like he was going clubbing later and he was goofing around with Eddie Lewis while he could have been playing in a game the Gals needed him to be playing in. I know you have priorities, Mr. Donovan, but one of them should be playing for your pay.
Donovan has now done and said everything he can to get the heck out of MLS. Meanwhile, Becks has assured us that he will be back next season, but he has coyly avoided discussing his option to leave the league after 2009. I, for one, think it may be better for the Gals just to let Donovan go. One thing they do not want is him playing for them when he’d rather be playing somewhere else. That’s a no-win situation for all involved. As for Becks, hopefully he will make good on his promise to support our league. If not, I say good riddance. Go sell some more jerseys elsewhere.
I don’t envy Bruce Arena one bit for the job he has before him. But I think he can get it done. The first thing he needs though is a leader. Someone who speaks with their play, rather than their publicist. A guy like Beckerman, Huckerby, Angel or Schelotto.
Come to think of it, they need a club-first player like Alexi was back in the day. (But, please AEG, note that I said player and not GM).