The Los Angeles Galaxy just announced that Sunday's MLS Cup will be David Beckham's last game with the club, despite the fact that he has one year left on his contract. It stopped short of saying that this would be the soccer superstar's last game ever, but we see the forest for the trees. And this forest is filled with tired old trees, trees that have been struggling through play off games and spending a lot of time icing creaky joints. Pending any offers from other MLS teams with tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to blow on a new contract, it looks like David Beckham might be done playing professional soccer.
We're not taking this conclusion lightly. Beckham has proved to be a strikingly durable footballer. Having begun his professional sports career with the Manchester United at the tender age of 17, Beckham's been playing at the sport's most competitive and cut throat level for two decades now. He's earned his place amongst the greats. He's got a movie named after him. Hugh Grant name-checked him in that other movie where he played the prime minister and Billy Bob Thornton played George W. Bush's doppelgänger. But he's also struggling. After playing four games in 11 days last week, Beckham told reporters who watched trainers strap ice packs to his back, "It feels like we've played about 50 games in the last two weeks." He didn't even finish three out of those four games.
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Like we said, though, David Beckham is a very durable man, and he has not said it's retirement time yet. As his fitness has declined, he's simply moved to less competitive leagues, where he can still steer teams towards championships -- the LA Galaxy's been to three league championships after bringing him on, winning one. Some European soccer clubs have expressed interest in Beckham, but there haven't been any bites. Meanwhile, rumors have been flying that Beckham's next stop will be Australia, but the superstar has flatly denied those. More likely is a move to New York City, where his wife Victoria "Tell You What I Want" Beckham wants to pursue her fashion career.
Beckham's real plans remain elusive. "I've had an incredibly special time playing for the L.A. Galaxy," he said in a statement. "However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future."
One last challenge? Two more years until the next World Cup, David. It doesn't pay that great, but the prestige is priceless.