David Beckham Leaving LA Galaxy: Why His Time in MLS Has Been a Success

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer INovember 20, 2012

David Beckham announced today that the M.L.S. Cup on December 1 will be his final match with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Beckham, who competed for six years in Major League Soccer, leaves the Galaxy with a mixed record.

The English star will be remembered for his failure to win a league he was expected to dominate in during his first four years in North America.

The tension that he had with American star and Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan was detailed in Grant Wahl's book The Beckham Experiment and is still remembered by many.

Others will contend that he never made soccer into the top sport in the United States.

There is plenty of negativity that could be attributed to Beckham and soccer in M.L.S. Although that negativity is strong, David leaves America as one of the biggest success stories since the time of Pele and Beckenbauer.

The arrival of Beckham was one of the biggest sports stories of 2007. Almost immediately, people stormed stadiums across Canada and the United States to watch him play.

Beckham's influence was so strong that he brought the league their highest attendance numbers since 1996, the first year of M.L.S.' existence.

Clubs like the New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls opened up seating to accompany thousands of more fans in their large homes.

Other teams like the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) played one match in a nearby NFL arena to host thousands of fans.

In the years following this "Beckham bonanza," six clubs created soccer-specific stadiums.

Two other clubs (DC United and the San Jose Earthquakes) have plans to build new homes during the coming years.

These stadiums are important because they are primarily built for soccer, which helps enhance the atmosphere and playing conditions. M.L.S. clubs are no longer "lesser tenants" to the NFL teams that they used to share a home with.

Although the new grounds have lower seating numbers than their old stadiums, they have drawn plenty of new fans. This has caused M.L.S. to have the third highest attendance average among professional American sports, eclipsing both the N.B.A. and N.H.L. since Beckham's arrival.

Six additional clubs who have joined the league since 2007, all of who have been success stories, have enhanced these numbers.

This does not include the 20th club that will join the league, which likely will be in New York.  

The Gothamist reported earlier this year that there will be a 100 million dollar franchise fee for the club. This is the same value that the Galaxy had in 2008.

The arrival of the midfielder created the league's designated player rule, popularly known as the "Beckham rule."

Under the plan, clubs can now purchase one player whose salary would not impact the clubs' salary cap. The league expanded this policy in 2010 so that up to three players that fall under this category could join any club.

Thanks to this rule, players like Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Torsten Frings, Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill have all joined the league.

Out of these five players, three of them (Marquez, Keane and Cahill) have remained active with their respective national teams. Henry was also recalled to play for Arsenal on a loan earlier this season.

These players have helped to prove that M.L.S. is not a "retirement league" for many of Europe's best footballers.

The new players who have joined the league have benefited from a new TV deal with N.B.C. Sports Network, which has seen ratings rise.

Beckham's popularity is also prevalent from these ratings. The Galaxy have the three highest ratings recorded during this years' playoff.

Although Beckham's time with Los Angeles may end in less than two weeks, the impact of his decision to join Major League Soccer has played major dividends in increasing the popularity of the league.

Based on attendance numbers and the increased popularity of M.L.S., Beckham's decision to play in America will be one of the greatest achievements in the league's history.


Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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