David Beckham sent shockwaves around the world when he signed with Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, giving Major League Soccer a level of legitimacy and visibility that otherwise may have taken decades to reach before the ink on his contract was barely dry.
Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of Beckham’s coming to America, a deal that made the former England captain the poster boy for a new era of MLS and transformed the Galaxy into one of the planet’s most recognisable football brands.
Beckham’s MLS career got off to a slow start as injuries limited him to five games in his debut season. He also faced plenty of criticism from Galaxy fans for loan moves to AC Milan in 2009 and 2010 that meant he missed some of the MLS season.
But by the time Beckham left MLS in December 2012 after winning a second consecutive championship with the Galaxy, he did more for MLS than perhaps any other player could have during that stretch.
The 2017 MLS season will feature 22 clubs compared to the 13 that competed in 2007. A second Los Angeles franchise will join next year and Beckham is behind a bid to add an MLS team in Miami that would bring the league to 24.
Fees for expansion teams have jumped to $150 million compared to $10 million in Beckham’s first year.