David Beckham, LA Galaxy to play against the New England Revolution this weekend

This Sunday, the LA Galaxy play against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. David Beckham, who made his debut last night, is probably (hopefully?) going to play. We asked Phoenix soccer expert, Mitch Krpata, to give us some thoughts:

Major League Soccer's 250-million-dollar man has finally touched down. David Beckham is still fighting an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since his arrival in the United States just a few weeks ago, but he was fit enough to make his debut last night for the LA Galaxy against DC United. The Galaxy lost, of course, because despite having two of the league's highest paid players, they're just not very good. Beckham's performance was distinguished by a beautiful free kick that bounced off the skull of an overwhelmed Carlos Pavon and into the crowd. This is what you have to look forward to, David.

Beckham's next stop is Gillette Stadium this Sunday, to take on our own New England Revolution. It's being treated as a watershed moment for local soccer, although stars have passed through before (Portuguese maestro Eusebio played for the Boston Minutemen in the North American Soccer League, and the team hosted, among others, Pelé's New York Cosmos). The hope is that fans will come for the chiseled Englishman and stay for the quality of play. It's a tall order.

MLS is improving all the time, to the point where league all-star teams routinely best top-flight European clubs. But it still hasn't been able to solve the talent drain. One of the league's most talented and exciting young players, Clint Dempsey, felt he could develop no further domestically and fled for England last winter. US National Team stalwarts like DaMarcus Beasley, Tim Howard, and Oguchi Onyewu have been plying their trade in Europe for years. Freddy Adu, anointed the savior of MLS at the age of 14, has decamped to Portugal. David Beckham is not enough to offset this loss of homegrown talent.

Which is not to say that Beckham's arrival is a negative. Anything that raises the league's profile is all right by me. And of all the possible aging superstars to import, it is Beckham who is the best ambassador for the sport. He seems motivated by a genuine desire to succeed and to get people in this country excited about soccer – and he's doing it, at least for now. What he can't do is play all 11 positions on the field. Ultimately, it's going to be up to the underpaid and largely anonymous players who make up the bulk of the league's roster to seize this opportunity. If not now, when?

-- Mitch Krpata

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