David Beckham will play his last game for Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup Final against Houston on December 1 in Los Angeles.
In 2007, he rolled into soccer town with a show. Beckham brought the big top to a little circus. Major League Soccer needed a new act, someone who could crack celebrity’s whip and park the audience in the soccer tent for gasps of excitement.
Roll Up! Roll Up! Come See the English Lion Bend It! The seats quickly filled. The clowns in the paparazzi kept the circus on the covers of the tabloids – Beckham – fame’s iconic acrobat. His image flew in various states of undress, hints of his latest fragrance passing over his fans, dropping purchases of all-things-Beckham, kids wearing his #23 jersey among the new converts. The top hats of Major League Soccer thanked him. As they should. Their league expanded to nineteen teams. No longer a little circus.
Not everyone was happy with the ticket to the Beckham show. The Galaxy fans turned on him when he considered closing the tent and moving back to Europe half way through the run. The fans of rival teams excoriated him. Fewer players have endured such heaps of boos and abuse. He became the ringmaster with a target on his back. His skin had to be thick. No doubt, money and fame made it easier to endure.
Consider this. Kids imagine being like someone. And who can deny that a chunk of America’s soccer playing youth imagine being Beckham. Flighting a free kick into the back of the net is tried on suburban soccer fields every weekend.
It was the Beckham show. And now the ring will be empty.
Roll Up! Roll Up! Who’s Next?
Read Alan Black’s soccer column every week in the Friday print edition of the San Chronicle.