Beckham was as advertised, in helping grow the MLS
By Rob Soria
December 1st will mark the end of the era for both the MLS and one David Beckham. The star midfielder will be playing his final game in the 2012 League Championship. Many have started to question if he was ever worth the hype. The answer to that question being a resounding and unequivocal YES!
Edmonton - November 20, 2012 - December 1st will mark the end of the era for both the Major League Soccer and one David Beckham. With word officially coming out of the L.A. Galaxy camp, that the star midfielder would indeed be playing his final game in the 2012 League Championship, many have started to ask whether he was ever worth all the hype. The answer to that question would be a resounding and unequivocal YES!
When Mr. Beckham decided to leave Real Madrid in 2007, in favour of Los Angeles and what was said to be a $250 million package, fans across the world were taken aback. Not only because of the eye-popping number to have been rumoured to be heading into the world's most popular footballer's wallet but also the fact that he decided to come and play the beautiful game in North America...one of the only spots in the world, where the game of soccer is not king.
While it was later explained that the former Manchester United standout was "only" pulling in a salary of $6.5 million a season, with the rest of that money "possibly" coming in the form of merchandising and endorsement dollars, the fact David Beckham came to the MLS was a huge deal. Fast forward six years and you now have those who actually feel, the former England captain was a bust during his time in the MLS.
Let us not kid ourselves. There were three reasons that the Beckham's came over to America. In no particular order: money, helping further his and wife's image in North America and growing the game. On a personal level, it went about as well as they could have hoped and from the soccer side of things, did his presence not help further grow the game in the USA and actually turn the MLS into a recognizable brand?
Make no mistake, for those of you that are not familiar with the game, the level of play in the MLS is nowhere near the likes of La Liga, Serie A, English Premier League, among other leagues around the world. That being said, comparing the game in the 2007 MLS to where it is today, is night and day.
The league implemented the "Designated Player Rule" in 2007, appropriately nicknamed the Beckham Rule, which allowed a club to bring in players to help not only promote the game to existing soccer fans but also improve the overall level of play across the league. Players that have been seen in various locals in recent seasons have included; Robbie Keane, Tim Cahill, Rafael Marquez, Thierry Henry and allowed a homegrown talent such as Landon Donovan, to keeping playing in the USA.
The game has clearly grown in leaps and bounds in popularity since Beckham's arrival but the league likely benefited most when it came to the merchandising side of things. People who do not follow the game, have no idea how many #23 David Beckham L.A. Galaxy jerseys are floating around the globe. Never mind other merchandise that has found its way into fans hands across the world..
The MLS has not only grown as brand but also as a league. They currently sit with nineteen teams but had only thirteen when Beckham arrived. Coincidence? Obviously not.
Those who were expecting Beckham to come to the MLS and tear up the league, clearly had never seen him play and had no idea what type of player he was. From the Galaxy's standpoint, there was an adjustment period for both the player and his teammates but the fact his side will be taking part in their third MLS Cup Final in six years, how can his time in L.A. be deemed anything but a success?
There are those out there who do not like David Beckham the player or David Beckham the celebrity. Unfortunately, there is nothing the now thirty-seven year old could ever do, be it on or off the pitch, that would ever make those people happy. However, if one were to actually take any preconceived notion, about the former two-time FIFA Player of the year runner-up, out of the equation, his time in the Major Soccer League has to be looked upon as nothing short of an enormous success.
To suggest anything but makes no sense whatsoever.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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