MLS to Introduce New "Beckham Area" Next Season

"Players of David Beckham's quality have to be protected," said MLS commissioner Don Garber after witnessing the world's most well-known footballer make his American soccer debut on Saturday, "even if it means giving them their own, rather large area of the field to play in."

Although the rules regarding this new area, tentatively dubbed the Beckham Area, have not yet been finalized, the general concept is straightforward:

Only David Beckham will be allowed to enter the area. Once inside, he will have free reign and unlimited time to make the perfect pass or take the perfect shot. If, for any reason, an opposing player encroaches, play will be stopped and Beckham will restart the match with a direct free kick from anywhere inside the area. If, on the other hand, one of Beckham's teammates accidentally wanders in, the opposition will be rewarded with a throw-in at a spot perpendicular to the violation on the side of the field closest to the infraction. In theory, Beckham will be able to leave the area at any time; however, he is expected to do so only when taking corners or missing spot kicks.

Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas said that while the MLS was reluctant to accept his proposal for the Beckham Area, seeing their most-expensive player tackled to the ground in the friendly against Chelsea changed their minds.

"I don't think they realize soccer players go to ground every time they're touched, and then roll around like they're been beaten by the cops until the ref blows his whistle or someone plays the ball out. But, hell, it's not my business to tell them. When the boys upstairs saw David trying to win the free kick by feigning injury, they thought he'd broken his ankle, panicked, and immediately agreed to fast track the proposal."

Lalas then changed tack, arguing that giving Beckham so much free space to operate in would be good news for the the fans and the game itself, and not just for the league's pocketbooks.

"Let's be honest. David's never been a great dribbler, especially quick, or any good at defending. And now that he's getting older, his attributes will only decrease. For example, no matter what training schedule I put him on, how many coaches I hire, or how many times I load and reload my L.A. Galaxy save game in Football Manager, by 2009, David's always left off the main squad when I let my Assistant Manager auto-pick the starters. His morale then goes down, he repeatedly requests a free transfer, and, when given one, finds that no club wants him and quits his playing career in order to pursue a manager position in Malta or Lichtenstein."

Although Lalas declined to answer any questions, he did point out that the Beckham Area will make it unnecessary to ever substitute the England international.

"If David ever feels tired or wants a breather, he can sit down in his area for a little while—maybe have a smoke, or listen to his iPod—until he feels he's ready to get up and play again."

The Beckham Area will also not go to waste in soccer games not involving the Galaxy, as the league's commissioner has plans to expand the area into a unique aspect of the American soccer experience.

"During games in which David's not taking part, the Beckham Area will be used to entertain the fans," explained Garber, "Rock concerts, stand-up comedians, professional wrestling, that sort of thing. Events that will bring people into the stadiums and keep them occupied while the game's going on. Think of it like a halftime show, except that it goes on straight from the kick-off until the final whistle."

Garber then added that the MLS was even in talks with several major movie studios about possibly erecting a movie screen in each Beckham Area and screening newly-released movies.

"We could fit most movies into 90 minutes plus halftime, and it would all have a sort-of drive-in feel to it. But we're leaning more toward live entertainment, at the moment."

After Sunday's game, Beckham spoke to enthusiastic journalists about his first brush with American soccer.

"It's a bit shit, though, isn't it?" said the former Real Madrid man.

"I don't deny knowing Major League Soccer was a bit of a muppet league, but no one told me I'd have to play with Abel Xavier."

Added Beckham, "He looks like a Yeti, and plays like Ivan Campo."

When questioned about the Beckham Area, "Becks" said he was pleased with the idea, and hoped it would eventually be implemented.

"Even though I feel that I'm just one player and an equal among my teammates, I'm clearly a much better footballer than anyone else in the league and deserve special treatment. I'm confident I'll be able to concentrate much more easily on football when I'm not worried that Landon Donovan will accidentally breath on me."

Donovan, who is expected to give up his captaincy to the more famous Beckham, responded to his soon-to-be successor's comment by summing up Beckham's entire move to Los Angeles.

"It's the MLS. Who gives a fuck?"

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