Subtleties separate Becks from peers

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

Will David Beckham prompt America to put its baseball bats and gloves in the attic and speak of football strictly in oblong terms?

He'll certainly sell a lot of soccer shirts and maybe a bit of underwear once a saucy W magazine photo shoot with wife Victoria gets circulated. But when the 32-year-old eventually gets rolling for the Los Angeles Galaxy, it might shock neophyte fans that, as a midfielder, he isn't roaring to the net and making excited announcers swallow their microphones.

Beckham is primarily a set- up man and free-kick specialist. Unlike the New York Cosmos executive, who once demanded career sweeper Franz Beckenbauer "get his million-dollar ass up front," when the German legend was signed by the North American Soccer League, Beckham will not be trying to dribble the ball the length of the pitch.

"Those who know the game will have great respect for what he brings," Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber told Sun Media.

WILL LEARN

"Those who don't know him will learn. But in a city such as Toronto, where people watch the Premier League and others all the time, they will appreciate him the most.

"David will add a lot to the league, but a league is never about one person. It's about team-building and marketing."

Some wonder if the Galaxy paying $250 million US for the Posh and Becks celebrity duo is the timely approach for the MLS, which had carved itself a niche without feeling the need to lure Beckham for credibility.

"If you really want to make MLS more competitive, you get someone like Ronaldinho, which would never happen," an American fan remarked during an internet debate about Beckham.

"(Or) look at Figo and players like that who were better and were more mature. For the price of Beckham, you could have brought a whole new team's worth of good young talent from various places around the world. This move made the MLS seem more interested in Hollywood than its league."


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