Beckham’s new love affair leaves Galaxy steaming

By Allyson Kloster

If you’re not looking forward to Valentine’s Day, take solace in the plight of a certain tattooed British soccer dud … err, stud. Alas, even David Beckham is having love problems.

At a press conference on Feb. 4, he made it clear there’s a new love interest in his life, other than Posh Spice. Two years after signing a five-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham has fallen in love with an Italian soccer club: A.C. Milan.

“I express my desire to remain here because I am doing very well with the team and the coach,” Beckham said in a press conference last week referring to A.C. Milan. “I feel a lot of love from the fans.”

This should come as no surprise. In an attempt to boost America’s interest in soccer, Major League Soccer shoveled a $250 million contract into Beckham’s pocket in 2007. It hung its hat in Beckham’s locker room cubby, only to have him sit out most of his first season due to a knee injury and score a measly five goals in 25 starts of the 2008 season.

The MLS should’ve known better. Dropping Pelé into the short-lived North American Soccer League of the 1970s didn’t create a nationwide soccer phenomenon, so why would it work with Beckham?

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Even if the MLS picked up Europe’s UEFA Champions League and plopped it in the U.S. permanently, America still wouldn’t become a soccer nation. It’s just not in our DNA. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with soccer. But baseball, basketball and football are so firmly entrenched in our nation’s history that, right now, there isn’t room for another sport to have equal popularity.

But even if there was room, simply bringing over foreign stars would not spark a new craze.

If America ever becomes as interested in the sport as the rest of the world, the spark will have to come from within our borders. If we shove baseball onto the Europeans, will it become an instant phenomenon there? I think we all know that answer.

It’s hardly surprising that Beckham wasn’t the MLS’ savior.

Even less surprising is his desire to get out of the country.

He’s been apathetic since the first day he came here. After all, he owes America nothing, other than three years of his contract (and if college football is any proof, breaching a contract isn’t that big of a deal).

Why is it, then, that he said he was so interested in boosting soccer’s image here, only to bail after his presence in the States didn’t translate to an increase in the sport’s popularity?

It isn’t – and never was – about the money. People will throw it at him wherever he goes.

But if it’s not the money, then was it his ego?

Perhaps he just wanted to see if he could attract Americans to soccer faster than it takes to make instant oatmeal. Sure, attendance records soared when Beckham played (or sat on the sidelines, injured), but he never got the attention stateside that he got in the Champions League, so why stick around?

Perhaps his motivation to transfer to A.C. Milan is purer. Like any athlete, he wants to stretch his tenure on the pitch as long as possible. If he stays in America and continues to play poorly with a poor team, he’ll fade away without anyone noticing.

Well, people will still notice him, but it will be for his life off the field, not on it.

Whatever his incentives may be, with all the hoopla surrounding his transfer from Real Madrid to America, the MLS gave Beckham too much to live up to.

He was a quick and easy attempt at creating a deeper fan base, but it was doomed from the start.

No wonder he’s fallen in love with someone else.

Allyson Kloster is a senior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]