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Beckham brought credibility, visibility to MLS
Question of the Day
“The Galaxy became a team known throughout world,” Gulati said. “It’s not in the same breath as Manchester United or Real Madrid, obviously. But it’s actually very well known throughout the world, and David is a big part of it.”
Beckham also elevated the league’s stature with international players.
Major League Soccer operates on a strict salary structure, and it was unwilling to break its bank for any player until Beckham came along. Thanks to the “Beckham Rule,” each MLS team now can have up to three “designated players” whose salaries only partially count against the salary cap. That’s helped attract players like Thierry Henry, who now plays for the New York Red Bulls after starring at Arsenal and Barcelona, and Robbie Keane, who is now with the Galaxy after more than a decade in the EPL.
Mexico captain Rafa Marquez, Henry’s teammate at Barcelona, also played in MLS.
“What Beckham signaled was that MLS was going to start hiring top talent, which they’d never had,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College. “It’s still not at the level of a European soccer league. Or even some of the teams in South America. … But MLS at least turned the corner and created some momentum. And also created some excitement.”
Though it took Beckham and the Galaxy a few seasons to get in sync, they eventually found their groove, winning the league title in both 2011 and 2012. Beckham even stuck around for another season after his initial contract expired in 2011, surprising many who expected him to go back to Europe.
But Beckham has made the United States his own little project, and he’s not done yet.
“Ownership is about perception, and I think you can’t have somebody that will generate more interest and eyeballs than David Beckham,” Lalas said. “But he is also smart enough to know what he doesn’t know and smart enough to surround himself with good people.
“Having him as an owner can only be a positive for the individual team that he’s a part of. But also for the league in general and, ultimately, soccer.”
By Michael P. Orsi
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