Landon Donovan criticises David Beckham for treating MLS as a joke

American star launches an attack on his LA Galaxy teammate

David Beckham and Landon Donovan

David Beckham has already been warned to expect an angry reaction from MLS fans when he returns in a fortnight but it looks like the reception from his teammates will be even frostier.

LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan has heavily criticised his captain in Sports Illustrated journalist Grant Wahl’s new book The Beckham Experiment.

Some of the 27-year-old’s gripes – that as captain Beckham should have supported his teammates more, got back from England duty quicker and shown more interest in the team – seem justified. However, his strongest words came in reaction to Beckham’s attempts to engineer a loan move to AC Milan:

“My sense is that David’s clearly frustrated, that he’s unhappy and, honestly, that he thinks it’s a joke.

“I also kind of feel [he has taken the team] for granted. I don’t see dedication or commitment to this team, and that’s troubling.”

“I can’t think of another guy where I’d say he wasn’t a good teammate, he didn’t give everything through all this, he didn’t still care. But with him I’d say no, he wasn’t committed.”

As Donovan himself went on loan to Bayern Munich during that MLS off season, it seems a bit hypocritical to slam Goldenballs for doing something remarkably similar. If the German club had shown an interest in extending the deal, would he really have turned them down?

The other point The Spoiler disagrees with is Donovan’s belief that Beckham should have paid for everyone at team meals, as he had done when he was the highest-paid player. After all, it’s not like the rest of the team were living in poverty so surely it would have been insulting for Beckham to assume they were too poor to pay their own way?

18 responses so far
  • shay // July 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Landon Donavan has done a hell of a lot more for the La Galaxy than David Beckham ever even thought of doing. The took the capitaincy away from Landon and gave it to someone who was only around for the money. And the part about team meals was 1 incident that happened when the team shared their 1st meal together according to the very book you are quoting. It obvious David Beckham does not care at all about the MLS. He said he only left so he could still play for the international team, but he’s usually a sub who comes on in the at most the last 20 minutes of the game. He just wanted the caps record, which he took from someone much more important to the team and more deserving.

  • Eric // July 2, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    The other players were in poverty, comparatively. Many of those players on Galaxy earn 30,000 per year!

    Also, Donovan’s loan to Bayern was during the MLS off season.

    Get some facts straight before you criticize Donovan.

  • Z // July 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    There are many guys on the team that make between 12-25k/year living in Los Angeles – that is living in poverty. These dudes can’t afford lavish meals.

  • Eric // July 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    LA Times on Galaxy wage structure:


  • tavo // July 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    How is this news? Beckham came to the MLS for the money.

  • ryan // July 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    if you invite someone making 20k a year to an expensive steakhouse they can’t afford to eat in, you probably should pay for the meal, especially if you’re making millions upon millions.

  • David // July 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm


    And this is the wage table for the MLS players. I believe all or most of them.

  • David // July 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Donovan left for off season and came back. Becks stayed and still hasn’t suited up for the MLS. He also will do it again. The difference is that Donovan went for a trial that could have become a potential move away for good, while Beckham is pledging allegiance to no team other than the English National Team.

    If he wants to train with AC Milan during the off season to play with England, that’s great. We all actually supported it. But he pulled a quick one and stayed for the remainder of the AC Milan season, which happens to interfere with the start of the MLS season. He also stayed in England for three days after a WCQ, while the Galaxy had a game in Houston. Sounds captain-like, right?

    You missed the point as usual with American football, because you’re biased as hell about it.

  • Michael Lintorn // July 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    As I said above, I agree with most of what Donovan said – including that Beckham should have returned sooner from England games.

    However, I don’t understand how he can criticise Beckham for moving in the off season when he did the same thing and – like Beckham – would have stayed longer if given the choice.

    He said on January 22:

    “If I go back to the Galaxy, we have our first game March 21, so I’d have to return at least one week earlier. But that would be sad. I want to make it here. It is my dream. I want stay here a few years.”

  • David // July 2, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    That is true Michael, because he wanted to transfer. Hell he probably still does. He’s not committed to the Galaxy for the rest of his career and has been very vocal about moving to Europe. The difference is that he would either come back at the end of the loan period, or he would make a permanent transfer. Not a “Time Share” deal, which is a phrase that was created for our beloved Beckham.

    It is ironic to a point, I suppose. But the fact is Beckham is not playing for one club, or even on a normal loan.

  • bryang // July 2, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    you can’t compare Donovan’s loan or anything he has done for LA Galaxy and MLS to Beckham you pole jockey! Donovan for starters is a BETTER player than Beckham and wants to get into a better league while he is still in his prime. Beckham is old and tattered just like posh’s kitty.

  • Winnie // July 3, 2009 at 1:13 am

    the MLS IS a joke…
    especially compared to other leagues.

  • mario // July 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    donovan is in fact a hypocrite. he joined bayern and he would have loved to stay at the club, but he was a MASSIVE failure. klinsmann tried to push his signing, but the coach of the reserve team told general manager uli hoeness that donovan wouldn´t even play in his team. donovan has tried and failed in germany before, at bayer leverkusen. he knows mls is a joke, so everything he says about beckham´s attitude comes right back at him.

  • Brian // July 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    the MLS is a working progress and it is trying to boost soccer in the U.S and by the works of the confederations cup it is doing a damn good job in my opinion….yes it isnt an american version of the premier league but it is a start of soccer in the U.S

  • Kyle // July 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

    As a player myself, I can honestly say that I would want to play for the best team possible. don’t forget, it is a BUSINESS. Having said that, Beckham should honor his commitments and be available for the Galaxy for the entire season. If he doesn’t want to do that, he should end the deal and return the money. Frankly, I have always thought he was over-rated.

    For those of you who complain about the MLS, why not try to support the league so it will be around for years to come. If the league gets more supporters (fans) the pay will increase. I wish I could attend games but I live in a small town not near a team. I played during a time when there were NO options for American players. We are on the path to greater things for the American soccer player.

  • Danny // March 7, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I think what Beckham did was for the most part in bad form, he signed with The Galaxy for money, plain and simple and I agree with the author that he should have thought this through from the start and honored his commitment. That said, MLS IS a joke.
    There is absolutely no way you could argue that this league is remotely on par with Premiership. Speaking of Landon Donovan, now that there is a possible labour dispute in MLS unsurprisingly he wants to stay at Everton. Honestly, being loaned to a Premiership team and having success and then having to return to MLS is being demoted. As far as anyone who is honest about the game is concerned MLS is strictly minor league. I can’t imagine that ANY young American player doesn’t play in MLS with the singular goal of making it to the real Major Leagues ie: Premiership, Serie A, Bundesliga etc. MLS is not a destination for any young player with real talent, it’s just a step along the way. And I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.

  • Danny // March 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    And let me add that I absolutely agree with Kyle that MLS is decidedly a GOOD thing for this sport in the United States. It provides a route for talented American players to make it to the leagues I mentioned above.
    MLS will get better and more widely viewed but it’s not going to happen overnight.

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