Hamm: Too early to judge Beckham effect in US
David Beckham’s desire to play for England may be limiting the
influence he’s having on the football scene in the United States,
although Mia Hamm believes it’s still too early to judge the Major
League Soccer star’s true impact.
Beckham signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract with the Los
Angeles Galaxy in 2007. The move to the MLS was expected to
increase the game’s appeal to a sports-viewing public generally
more enamored with American football and baseball.
”I think to some degree,” Hamm told The Associated Press on
Thursday when asked if the expected change Beckham was set to bring
the game in the United States had happened.
”It’s still evolving, he’s still there. I don’t think the David
Beckham chapter is quite finished yet. Maybe we’ll need to evaluate
it in five years.”
Hamm said Beckham’s dedication to England had perhaps been the
”He definitely created a buzz,” the former U.S. captain said
from the sidelines of the Barcelona Global Sports Forum. ”But
playing for your country also means a certain amount of time. When
he came to Los Angeles it looked like his days in England were over
but there was a huge push by his teammates to bring him back.
”As a competitor you understand why there was this transition
back to Europe. As a fan, I was excited he was playing for the
Galaxy and I could see him in my own backyard. As a teammate I’m
sure they also understand. It’s difficult.”
Hamm, a two-time world player of the year, believes Beckham’s
good intentions but yearning to play in Europe during the MLS
offseason put him in a ”tough position.”
The Galaxy rejected a loan-move to English club Tottenham this
year with Beckham returning from the Achilles’ tendon injury he
sustained while playing for AC Milan a year ago. Beckham, whose 115
international appearances are the most by an outfield England
player, traveled to last summer’s World Cup as an assistant to
coach Fabio Capello while recovering from the injury.
”I believe him when he says he’s committed to making our sport
grow in our own backyard,” said Hamm, a two-time World Cup
Beckham is the biggest name to sign up for MLS since its
inception in 1996, and the most famous player to play club football
in the U.S. since Pele, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan
Cruyff competed in the North American Soccer League in the 1970s
and early ’80s.
The 35-year-old Beckham hasn’t played for England since an
October 2009 match against Belarus.