This man is an icon is an icon … we all know. And he’s also the guy responsible for bringing the MLS to where it is today!
Before David Beckham went to the United States to begin this ‘MLS revolution’, the country had already tried their own adaptation of the game of football. And yes, before you get all uppity with me … they do call it ‘soccer’.
But did you know that they are basically the same thing? The full term for ‘football’ is actually ‘association football’ – and ‘soccer’ is a term abbreviating from the ‘association’ part of the title.
Funny, isn’t it? That even today, there’s still this vendetta going on around the world between different football cultures to discuss what the game we all love is actually called.
And all the while, both schools have been saying the exact same thing … just in different dialects!
Anyway, we digress …
Before Beckham or any of us had time to consider the US as a ‘soccer’-crazy nation, it might surprise you to know that they actually tried it before he wound up on their shores.
It was back in the ’80s and was referred to as the North American Soccer League (‘NASL‘) – but fell flat on its feet through its own unsustainable business model. In basic terms, they spent more than what they brought in, and literally caved in almost a decade after they started playing.
And then the World Cup came in 1994.
Thus, signalling a complete resurgence for the nation as a whole, and renewing their collective interest in football. But as a condition of being a host for the tournament, FIFA decreed that they had to commit to having their own professional league set up and running by a minimum of two years after the competition’s final.
Then, thirteen years later – with a fully sustainable model sorted, and some influential owners involved in the league, it was time for them to make a big statement.
“The signing of David [Beckham] probably kept MLS around forever. He gave us global attention. The investment in the league is tremendous. We’re moving forward in every area.”Bruce Arena (Head Coach at LA Galaxy)
on signing David Beckham in 2007
As it turned out, David Beckham wasn’t having the best of times in his careers. He was only just over 30 years old, and still had a lot of work to do in his career. His contract was nearing its end at Real Madrid, and his ability still meant that the likes of A.C. Milan and Paris Saint-Germain were pretty likely callers for the English superstar.
But David Beckham is David Beckham after all.
He wanted to leave a legacy on the game, and sometimes to do that, you have to go beyond the norm and do what most wouldn’t expect. In this case, it meant signing for the LA Galaxy.
From that point on, the world had little choice but to sit up and recognise the revolution that was set to take place in the States. Signing David Beckham was not going to be some simple ‘marketing ploy‘ to see some transient change in the state of the game over there, it was clear from the moment he was unveiled that he was set to start a dynasty.
And as sure as the Sun comes up every day, interest increased, investment levelled off … and the football turned up a notch! What else do you expect from one of the greatest technicians the game has ever seen?
Argue with yourself, if you disagree!
At that point, the ‘Domino Effect‘ took hold. And whether you want to admit it or not, almost everything that the MLS has enjoyed until this point nods its head back to David Beckham signing for the Galaxy.
Every big-name signing, every top-level commercial change … and even the creation and addition of a number of new MLS franchises. Which, from 2018, now includes David Beckham’s own team (‘Inter Miami C.F.) – an outfit which Beckham himself admits to being a product of the interest and notoriety that he helped to lay.
I wouldn’t even be surprised if David Beckham signed for LA Galaxy with a view to starting a team a decade later. I just wouldn’t put anything passed the guy at this rate!