It’s not very often that I can say that a player of David Beckham’s stature had a solid game despite not earning an assist or a goal in the run of play. Great players don’t have to be defined by the scorelines. They can also be defined by the other statistics regarding possession, defense, distribution…those types of stats. And they have to be very compelling in matches like the second leg of the 2012 MLS Western Conference Final.
And not very often I can say that Beckham had a good game despite Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy losing yet again on the road to Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders, this time by the score of 2-1. But I will say that this time around because Beckham just seems to find ways to perform outside of scoring and playmaking. He is an all-around midfielder and has been so for just about his entire career.
Take a look at his distribution, courtesy of the Opta Chalkboard. We’re talking a 76 percent pass success rate, which is pretty good compared to the passing of the back line. Also in terms of distribution, Beckham had six lay offs and five headers to go with a successful cross and a key pass.
Another solid dimension to Beckham’s game: his defensive work. Without Landon Donovan in the lineup, the onus was on Beckham to shoulder the weight and become more proactive in terms of defending a desparate Seattle attack who, in the end, did enough to win the second leg but little else. Beckham had two interceptions, two clearances, a tackle won, and 14 recoveries.
While Beckham was unable to generate a successful sequence on the counter due to Seattle pressing numbers forward all game, his influence in the midfield softened the blow and resulted in Los Angeles’s best performance against Seattle in Seattle this year.
Of course, this is not counting some debatable officiating by referee Mark Geiger, a would-be goal by Eddie Johnson that was called back due to offsides, and a handball by the Sounders’ Adam Johansson that effectively ended any chances Seattle had of at least sending the aggregate into extra time. Oh yes, and another would-be handball by Seattle just before halftime. So there’s that to consider.
But that has nothing to do with what Beckham contributed on Sunday against Seattle. Though it was a losing effort, it was not bad enough to deny Los Angeles a chance to host the MLS Cup Final and perhaps add another star above their crest. All in all, a good, if modest, performance from the Galaxy’s No. 23.