Editorial (February 19, 2019) – Earlier this month, the LA Galaxy announced that they have plans to construct a statue of former midfielder David Beckham. The statue will be unveiled on or before the Galaxy regular season home opener.
The thing about the David Beckham Statue: A league or club honor?
This honor is absolutely deserving. There are lots of reasons why soccer teams don’t do jersey retirements. In loo of the National Soccer Hall of Fame gaining the significance and prestige of other that of other sports in America, a statue outside the grounds of the club is a fantastic way to honor a club legend.
David Beckham coming to the Galaxy MLS has a watershed moment for American Soccer. He put the league on the map when he arrived in 2007. Many league historians consider that the beginning of MLS 2.0 or at least one of the events that triggered the start of the new era in MLS. Beckham signed with MLS as the first ever Designated Player, informally known at that time as the “David Beckham Rule.”
The DP designated ushered in a wave of talent the league had never seen before nor could have dreamed of coming. Thierry Henry, David Villa, and Didier Drogba followed. Now major stars from Europe and younger future stars from South American come to the league as DPs. Beckham’s legacy in MLS has stretched beyond his playing career and what he did on the field.
That said, this feels incomplete for the LA Galaxy and the league. While Beckham is deserving, he’s not the only one for the LA Galaxy and one could argue several others are as (possibly more deserving). From an on-field production standpoint and team influence, Robbie Keane is arguably the best DP in MLS history.
Landon Donovan is the greatest male American soccer player of all time with much of his contributions for club and country occurred while he played for his hometown LA Galaxy. To a lesser extent, an original MLS fan could make a similar argument for Cobi Jones.
While USMNT fans might not like this given recent events, Bruce Arena (along with the late Sigi Schmid) is the most decorated American soccer coach of all time. Like Donovan, many of his accomplishments came with the LA Galaxy.
Beckham’s stats aren’t that impressive compared to many of the DPs who’ve followed in his footsteps. He recorded 18 goals and 40 assists in 98 regular season games.
If this is the LA Galaxy honoring a former player for their contributions to the league, awesome. But there are other members of the club who deserve this honor as well. If this is the Galaxy honoring Beckham for Galaxy specific contributions, awesome. But a Mt. Rushmore of statues a la Star Plaza at Staples Center should follow with others who are just as (if not more) deserving.
Of all the soccer-specific stadiums in MLS, the only contributor to American Soccer with a statue is Lamar Hunt, who has statues outside Toyota Stadium and Mapfre Stadium. Contributors to clubs, the league, and sport in general deserve to be honored all over the map. Not just David Beckham outside Dignity Health Sports Park.