With David Beckham announcing he will not be returning with the LA Galaxy next season, deciding not to exercise a second year option on the contract he signed at the beginning of this year, everyone is asking what happens next. Not only for David Beckham, but what's next for the LA Galaxy.
Looking at it practically, Beckham leaving clears up a lot of space for the Galaxy in different areas. The Galaxy will get one of their international spots back, currently using nine international slots. The Galaxy won't have to pay the $250k for a third Designated Player slot. The Designated Player charge of $350,000 comes off the books.
So what do the Galaxy do next? One persistent rumor is that they'll trade like for like and bring in Frank Lampard who's estimated player value is currently 4.8 million pounds or 800k more than Robbie Keane is currently worth.
Of course the Galaxy could go the other direction and take this as a time to reinvest the freed up capital in player development. Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas stand as strong international stars, Mike Magee is the working man's hero, Michael Stephens continues to develop, and the Galaxy still have at least a year of Landon Donovan.
All of those players are great in pushing the ball up, but Donovan is the only one who really has a history of piling up assists. Frank Lampard would give the Galaxy another goal creator in the middle, and if 2013 is indeed Donovan's last year with the Galaxy (and possibly Keane's) Lampard would be a commitment to winning now.
If the Galaxy feel they can convince Donavan and Keane (and Omar Gonzalez) to resign, I think reinvesting in player development is the way to go. The Galaxy have only been a three DP team for two years now, and while those two years have been MLS Cup years there's no reason to think the Galaxy can't go back to being a two DP team. So long as the wins keep coming the gate shouldn't be hurt that much.
This is just the first domino amongst many dominoes still to fall. MLS Cup 2012 is sure going to be some great theater.