No. 1: Galaxy star David Beckham
January, 1, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesIn what was the final year of his original contract with MLS, David Beckham had his finest season.Counting down the top 11 personalities of 2011 in Southern California soccer ...
Nobody dominated the conversation about soccer in Los Angeles in 2011 as David Beckham did. What's new?
The talk's largely been about him for five years now -- with good reason, given the massive impact he's had on Major League Soccer, the game in America and, of course, the Galaxy -- but circumstance (end of his contract, the Galaxy's so-close finishes in 2009 and 2010) and execution (a stunningly good season, for Becks and L.A.) amplified the discussion during a special campaign that ended in repeated glory.
Beckham was superb in his finest season in America, the primary on-field figure (no matter the votes for MVP) in the Galaxy's run to the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield championships and into the CONCACAF Champions League's knockout stage. The attack largely revolved around his golden right foot, his ability to pinpoint passes from distance, and his exhaustive efforts at both ends of the field were huge for a team that, contrary to image, thrives because role players so expertly play their roles.
So many Galaxy players were so good in 2011 that Beckham, if anything, was underappreciated. He deserved the club's MVP honor (which went to Landon Donovan) and a substantial spot in the league MVP discussion (which went on mostly without him) after contributing 15 regular-season assists -- and 21 assists in all, four of them during the playoffs -- in a performance that can't begin to be defined by numbers.
An MLS Best XI mention was his only reward, aside from the ones he really wanted: the trophies.
As good as Beckham was, nearly everything he did was overshadowed by what he's going to do. The end of his contract -- and whether in 2012 he'll return to the Galaxy or go elsewhere: Paris Saint-Germain, it turns out -- has since season's start been the prevailing story surrounding the club, with plenty of foreign media (a lot of them from France) around to gather the tale.
No word yet what he'll do, but the wait won't be long. PSG wants his signature this week, before it returns from winter break on the weekend. The Galaxy regroup in another few weeks. The latest whispers are that he's leaning toward accepting L.A.'s offer.