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

biggest hurdle.

”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

champion.

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.