He may have missed more than half of LA Galaxy's games since joining the club in July but America's football fans have not given up on David Beckham, injury-plagued but still the brightest – and costliest – adornment of Major League Soccer.
"I don't feel short-changed with all the money he's making" said 32-year-old Shalu Mahesh, ensconced at a Washington soccer sports bar watching Liverpool's 8-0 Champions League thrashing of Besiktas on Tuesday. "His arrival in MLS was a fantastic event. He's helping put soccer on the map here – and of course my wife loves him."
"He's gone all out in the few games he's played, and he's had an impact on all of them. I understand the injuries – he probably hurt himself by playing when he was already injured and shouldn't have. But he didn't want to let down the fans."
The figures bear Mahesh out. For the second year running the Galaxy failed to make the play-offs, notwithstanding MLS's generous format. But even with an injured Beckham the team drew huge crowds wherever they played.
In Los Angeles the Beckham phenomenon has inevitably faded somewhat. Though the familiar designer-stubbled face still looms from shaving product ads on Sunset Boulevard, most local Beckham-watching concerns his wife's efforts to revive her showbiz career.
Everywhere else, however, it is a different story. Galaxy away attendances averaged 28,000 a game, way above the league average of 16,700. In Washington, 45,000 turned out to watch the Galaxy when they visited RFK Stadium in August – more than the Washington Nationals baseball team managed to attract to any of their 81 home games at the same venue. And Beckham was only on the pitch for the last 20 minutes.
Despite his long absences, a survey found that almost 70 per of football fans believed Beckham would have "a significant impact" on the game here. He was the favourite player of 15 per cent of male fans, and 28 per cent of females.Reuse content