Pele believes David Beckham has been mis-sold to the American public.
Los Angeles Galaxy signed former England captain Beckham amid a blaze of publicity earlier this year as part of the sport's latest attempt to buy its way into the US sports mainstream.
But Beckham's performances, curtailed by injury, failed to match the hype and Galaxy endured a miserable campaign, missing out on the MLS play-offs.
In marketing terms, Beckham's move has been a huge success but Pele fears the momentum will be lost because the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star is a midfielder and not a regular goalscorer.
Brazil World Cup legend Pele knows plenty of the US soccer scene having been part of the New York Cosmos side which briefly enjoyed popularity in the 1970s.
Pele said: 'They announced him as a scorer of goals. He isn't a goalscorer - that was a mistake.'
Pele is keen for soccer to take off in the United States but feels for development to continue, restrictions on player movement and wages now need to be lifted completely.
Beckham, who reputedly earns £500,000 a week, joined Galaxy after MLS introduced a rule to allow teams to break the salary cap for a `designated player'.
The MLS also has control over players' contracts and Pele believes it is time for clubs to be given a free hand.
Pele, 67, said: 'This was one of the mistakes - they have to give freedom to the owners of the teams to buy the players and (chose) which players they want to put (out).
'The big mistake in the league now is to control the level of the teams. If they opened this up, it would be much better.'