Over on twitter, after Saturday's loss and learning that Robbie Keane was named vice captain, I postulated that David Beckham had lost the position of vice captain. Of course, I was wrong. David Beckham was captain in the first two years of his contract (07, 08) and then gave back the armband to Landon Donovan who has been captain ever since. However, despite occasionally wearing the armband since then, Beckham has not been the vice captain. Last year the vice captain was Gregg Berhalter.
Still, it's a fairly fluid thing. It made sense to make Berhalter the vice captain in his final year with the Galaxy, but in an early loss at Salt Lake last year both Donovan and Berhalter were unavailable which meant Beckham wore the armband. Todd Dunivant, Frankie Hejduk, and Donovan Ricketts also wore the armband at some point last season.
What does a captain do exactly? Outside of the more etherial role of leader out on the pitch, the captain takes part in a coin toss before every match. The winning captain choses which goal his team will defend first, while the losing captain's team will kickoff. Captains tend to have a preference on which goal they defend first, and while I may discover Landon Donovan's preference, he'll probably never tell me the reason why.
It's an honor internally amongst your teammates, and it's something those chosen are quite proud of. Anyone who's read Grant Wahl's book knows the saga of the armband between Donovan and Beckham.
Naming Keane vice captain is a nice way of welcoming him into the team. He is, of course, the captain of the Irish national team, and thus far is leading the Galaxy in goals with three. Here's hoping this trust in him inspires Keane to stick around for another contract period.