Throwing out the mere notion of David Beckham for MLS MVP will usually garner one of two responses, in various forms: "David Beckham? Do you even watch MLS?" Or my personal favorite, "Beckham can't be MVP, he's too talented." That last one is both situational and historical.
There is a contingent of MLS fans (and Galaxy fans) that have felt Beckham has acted above MLS, missing portions of the MLS season on loan, and occasionally coming back injured. In the situational component Beckham is tied for the MLS assist lead; with both he and Brad Davis at 15 assists going into the last weekend of regular season play.
It's been a trend that players contending for the Golden Boot are given greater consideration for MVP. Luciano Emilio in '07, Landon Donovan finished second in '08, Jeff Cunningham finished third in '09, and Edson Buddle finished second in '10. It makes sense, you needed something to quantify your vote, and goals are as good a marker as any.
David Ferreira in '10 and Landon Donovan in '09 have shown that voters have started to prefer that player who is among the leaders in both goals and assists. Beckham, this year, is having the sort of year which should allow voters to chose a player who is a part of every element of the game, not just the offensive third.
Beckham's 15 assists account for 32 percent of the Galaxy's offense this year. And this isn't a team that has slid under late season pressure like FC Dallas. This is a team that can break the MLS record for points in a season with a win in Houston. Beckham's play makes the Galaxy one of the deadliest teams in MLS on set pieces, in a year when set piece goals are up. The LA Galaxy have 14 goals from set pieces this year, while only conceding five. Seven of Beckham's assists have been game-winners.
This is all the more remarkable when you consider where Beckham usually is on the pitch. Most of the match, you'll find him mingling amongst the defenders, coordinating that transition from defense to offense. His run-of-play assists come not from running up the side but from just past the midfield line. This is the man who got the ball in a RFK press box window from the pitch.
Because of those loans and injuries, this is truthfully just Beckham's second full season in a five-year contract. Soccer fans expecting Beckham to completely dominate have been disappointed, but that's happened this year. You can't argue he doesn't care anymore, his yellow card record shows just how much he mixes it up. I talked about his defense? Beckham has been just as likely to draw a yellow for his tackles as he has been his mouth this year.
Beckham is the guy on MLS's best team who you have to constantly know where he is on the pitch. He's the guy who can hit a man in the box while still close enough to turn to Bruce Arena and say "How about that one?" To borrow from the office, "There's something about an underdog that inspires the unexceptional," but occasionally you have to admit the man with the most talent has quietly done the best job.