Beckham, Donovan Era With Galaxy Must End

A look at why David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy should completely restart
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, December 04, 2012

David Beckham for LA Galaxy (MLS)

It was a story book ending.

Landon Donovan and David Beckham, one of the most dynamic and popular duos to grace an MLS pitch, won their second straight MLS Cup over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

It was billed as Beckham’s last MLS match – an end of an era in American soccer culture. Beckham, who completely freshened and commercialized the sport in America back in 2005, was looking for his next adventure following the match. This was it for him – the curtain call, the final bow, the final chapter.

And then there was Donovan, whose own career was being called into question leading up to the contest. Days before Saturday’s match, media outlets released story after story, mostly based around Donovan’s own comments, about whether or not this would be the end of his career.

Donovan even had his big moment in the match. Yes, he missed a wide open shot in the early going, but he later made up for it with his penalty kick goal.

So at the end of it all, Beckham and Donovan both got their championships and their big moments. It was a clean cut finale with no loose ends. It’s something that we, as analysts, fans and spectators, all crave for – a comprehensive ending.

Beckham will leave; he’s made that very clear. Rumors are inconsistent at this point, but he’s been linked to clubs across the globe. He’s taking his talents from the golden coast of America, and will likely return only when there’s a club for him to own.

But Donovan’s future is still an enigma, as he has more time on his contract, years in his legs and the fans are not ready to let go of him at the LA Galaxy, MLS and USA National Team levels. It’s completely possible that the American international will stay another season or two with the Galaxy and try and win a third consecutive championship. He seemed unsure of his future at the post-game press conference, which is a result of a sure burnout for the player that has kept going and going for seasons. Still though, the fire might be lit, and he may return.

He shouldn’t, though. And the Galaxy shouldn’t ask him to come back, either.

For seven years, the Galaxy have had a certain status and reputation. They’ve had two – and sometimes three, with the addition of prodigious Irish forward Robbie Keane – top stars on their roster. To compare it to baseball, they’ve been the Yankees of MLS. And amazingly only the Galaxy match the Bronx Bombers in terms of recent playoff time - in all North American sports. Teams look at LA and know they’re in for a fight. Just look at the amazing turn around the team went through in these previous two seasons. They were down in the lower part of the table for a while before climbing back and snagging the championship.

With Beckham gone, this will diminish. If Donovan stays and Beckham leaves, it’ll be like a bad straight-to-DVD sequel – the same material (without the main star), the same concepts, but not the same tone and feel.

Both Beckham and Donovan deserve to be remembered – they deserve to be legends. Few athletes actually get a chance to go out the way they have an opportunity to. This is an ending that Hollywood filmmakers conjure, but few actually live through. Donovan and Beckham need to take the opportunity and leave the team. Leave on a high note. Leave with a championship.

They’re both free to go onto other things. If Beckham wants to go all Drogba and head to China, he’s more than welcome to. Maybe Donovan will return to Everton. They are well within their rights and remaining abilities to go onto something else, above or below MLS.

No matter what they do, though, they both need to leave the team together. Through all the dramatics, the fandom, the rise of the Galaxy and everything the two went through together, it makes the most sense for them to close the door on MLS at the same time.

This kind of closure will also help the Galaxy. Fans have gotten used to seeing Beckham and Donovan. They do still attract a crowd, but the buzz around the team is nowhere near the level it was in 2006 when Brand Beckham invaded America. If both Donovan and Beckham head out the door, LA will have a chance to bring in some new DPs and start a new era.

There’s been talk of Kaka coming to MLS, specifically the Galaxy. Kaka can surely help the transition from the Donovan and Beckham years. He’s a recognizable and skilled player. He’ll fill Beckham’s on-field role as a world-class excellent player, albeit quite different. Off the field of course, there isn’t an athlete, or person alive arguably, that could fill the sports brand void of Becks.

LA has a good thing going for it. With Beckham leaving, and Donovan appearing less than motivated and sometimes disinterested in his efforts, it may be time for the Galaxy to get that clean slate as they look to continue their championship run.

For Beckham, Donovan and the Galaxy, it’s time for that reset. They’ve all been handed a fairy tale ending, and they should all take advantage of it. Beckham, Donovan and the Galaxy team during the era of they both played and won, all deserve to be remembered.

Maybe, just maybe, they will.


UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.