American Soccer Betting
Thinking about having a wager on David Beckham playing his soccer in the USA next year? Since the MLS soccer season just finished, the league's general managers are already busy planning next year's squads and many are likely going on international scouting trips. That is now possible after the MLS instituted a new designated player rule which gives teams the financial capacity to take a gamble on big name players from abroad.
Most of them would be well-served to turn around and fly back home again.
The new law (known as the "Beckham Rule") lets teams avoid the salary cap for one selected player, and has led to a torrent of rumours about hordes of overseas players moving to play in the USA, just like with the NASL in the 1970s.
At that time, the policy didn't work. Now the MLS is in a much stronger position and should be capable of supporting a bunch of highly paid, if aging, stars.
But that doesn't mean it should.
Acquiring David Beckham, the probability of which is much higher than acknowledged, would doubtless be a massive coup for the MLS. (William Hill Bookmakers have listed his chances of playing in the MLS at 4/1 bet odds) As a worldwide figure, Beckham would bring immediate star power that could be exploited in both New York and Los Angeles .
Apparently not part of Fabio Capello's strategy at Madrid, and unwilling to return to the English Premiership (where he is only willing to play for Manchester United), Beckham could see the USA as his only option to increase his marketing value as his playing career winds down.
But the conditions that could bring Beckham, 31, to the United States are unique to him, and only one MLS team can afford him. The other 12 need to determine another way of using their designated player spot. Don't bet on them finding anyone worthwhile.
As soon as Beckham signs, there will only be scraps left for other clubs. Few players want to move across the pond, apart from those nearing retirement and too old to be worth much to their new teams.
Clubs would be much better off working on the talent they have, and trying to discourage their own players from departing to Europe. A dozen Landon Donovans would be far more beneficial to the MLS than a dozen Luis Figos.
Donovan declined the opportunity of playing in Germany because he missed California's weather, but his come back did wonders for the soccer league.
Regardless of his reasons, many people believed Donovan was just as useful in MLS as in the Bundesliga.
But he's proven to be the exception instead of the rule, with the surge of American players moving to Europe unstoppable as teenagers such as Michael Bradley and Lee Nyugen relocated to Holland's Eredivisie last year. The odds are good that will continue, with another bunch set to sail across the Atlantic, starting with New England midfielder Clint Dempsey.
The 23-year-old Dempsey has the requisite skill to succeed in Europe, but he is improbable to be much more than a ordinary team member at an English Premiership club – just like Carlos Bocanegra at Fulham -- rather than a big star.
What MLS teams need to do is make it financially attractive enough for American players to stay at home, because those are the very players that fans will support most.
Until the MLS can convince US internationals they are best off at home rather than in Europe, the soccer league will never earn the credibility it so desperately wants.
The new rule is certainly an opportunity to build up the league, but they should do it by protecting what they have, instead of bringing in short-term solutions from overseas. Betting on Beckham would be the wrong choice for US soccer.