Why David Beckham is bad for American soccer

Robert Weintraub in Slate:

Screenhunter_07_jan_12_1547Beckham’s role has never been that of a scorer, even though his skill at curling free kicks into the far reaches of the net earned him immortality on the movie marquee. Beckham’s game is passing—he has the ability to put the ball on a sprinting teammate’s foot from half a field away.

Now on the dark side of 30, Beckham’s game, dependent as it is on vision and timing, has seen some slippage. Upon taking over the English National Team after the World Cup, Steve McClaren’s first order of business was to strip Beckham of his place on the squad. And this season, Beckham has started for Real Madrid all of five times in 17 matches. In fairness, he was solid in his first two seasons for los Galácticos, but he hasn’t fit into new manager Fabio Capello’s plans.

Since the words 250 and million will be appended to Beckham’s name in virtually every media mention, American fans will likely expect to see a player as dominant as the great Pelé. Forget putting up hat tricks—between his deteriorating skills and the mediocre talent he’ll line up next to, merely getting onto the score sheet might prove a challenge. But even if Beckham does play well, his presence stateside will likely do more harm than good for American footy.

More here.