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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beckham/Donovan: Greatest Tandem of All Time? , Part 2

In a sport desperate for stars, the two biggest, Beckham and Donovan, play on the same team.  They get their second chance at a first title on November 20th at home (They lost their first MLS final to Real Salt Lake two seasons ago).

This match will likely exceed expectations on all fronts; ratings, coverage and sales of paraphernalia.  Sports fans know Beckham and Donovan and will have a stronger than average rooting interest.

The U.S. hasn't had pro Soccer club stars of this stature on the same team since Pelè and Beckenbauer (Probably now, though, most casual sports fans wouldn't even recognize the name Beckenbauer).

The biggest star ever was Pelè, but that was more than 30 years ago.

As far as superstar Soccer studs playing in the U.S., they are hard to come by.  It takes a lot to achieve U.S. Soccer superstar status. They are a rare breed, indeed.

Their rareness is due in large part to Soccer's lack of mainstream popularity in the U.S., but also because of the difficulty in racking up big statistical numbers.

For baseball, basket and football, stats are like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They are constantly bantered about by broadcasters and are displayed on television frequently before, during and after contests.  Statistics have become the most enduring way to connect fans from different generations. They give historical perspective and provide context for the modern game.

In Soccer, due to the difficulty in scoring goals and the lack of any abundance of other great statistical measures, greatness becomes a much more difficult achievement.


In many ways, it is the flare for how the game is played that measures greatness.

In Beckham's case, his set bending kicks, longevity in the game around the world and his reputation as a male underwear model have made his greatness known.  Donovan has done it in a workman-like way.  He has persevered over the years to become a great MLS scorer and National team player.

For MLS to continue to make its play for mainstream status and galvanize support among casual sports fans, they need more stars.  This is agreed at every level, including the Commissioner, Don Garber.

But, where will these stars come from?  Soccer's not like the other sports, where coverage and stats creates stars every season.

MLS must find a way to entice more stars to its league.  Every team needs a tandem that excels.  Ones that are recognizable.

Also, MLS must give enough incentives to attract other American stars back to the U.S.  Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are needed in this league.  Their presence will push the brand further along.

Some other great tandems that are reasonable to achieve for MLS and could compete with Beckham and Donovan would be; Thierry Henry and Freddy Adu, Ronaldinho and Altidore, Kaká and Dempsey.

To vote in the poll for who you would like to see next as a tandem on an MLS team, scroll down and look on the right of this page.

To see Part 1, click Here.

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