It’s the end of an era in MLS – the David Beckham Era. The English international will play his last MLS game on Saturday, Dec. 1, when he gears up for the Los Angeles Galaxy against the Houston Dynamo in the 2012 MLS Cup championship at the Home Depot Center in Carson (CA).
Beckham’s signing six years ago was intended to bring worldwide credibility to Major League Soccer but there are mixed reviews about the success of his mission, especially at the price of approximately US$30 million. But the naysayers are few.
“Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport and David not only took our franchise to another level but he took our sport to another level,” said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Galaxy club owner AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). “It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours.”
The English international’s signing revolutionized the league as it somewhat circumvented its own economic model that was the bedrock of the league: MLS agreed to create the “designated player” which allowed teams to go beyond the salary cap to sign other world class players.
The player opened MLS doors for other world class players such as French international Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls, Mexican internationals Rafael Marquez and Cuauthemoc Blanco in New York and Chicago, respectively, Colombian international Juan Pablo Angel with Chivas USA, Guillermo Barros Schelotto of Argentina in Columbus and Dutch legend Ruud Gullitt as coach with the Galaxy.
He also brought much excitement to the league; he bent it like only Beckham knows how as most of his 18 goals in 98 matches came from his creative free kicks. Beckham led the Galaxy to the 2011 MLS Cup win, help the team reach the MLS Cup finals three times and also led the team to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal the past two seasons.
“I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career,” Beckham said in a statement released by the team. “I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.”
Beckham will look to secure his second MLS Cup on Saturday and create a rousing departure to his storied sojourn in U. S. soccer.
The New York Red Bulls re-signed local midfielder Connor Lade and defender Brandon Barklage. The Red Bulls, which as overhauled it management personnel, including the release of head coach Hans Bake and his assistant, also announced that Lade will train with Spanish club Seville in December.
“Both of these players had very strong seasons for us and have bright futures ahead,” said recently appointed Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh. “We are very pleased to recognize their play by agreeing to new contracts with each of them and we look forward to their contributions in the coming years.”
New women’s league
The USA soccer federation and the federations of Mexico and Canada agreed to a joint venture to create a new eight-team women’s outdoor soccer league to start in the spring. U.S. Soccer will absorb the expenses of operating the league by finding corporate sponsors, subsidizing salaries, taking care of promotions, scheduling and so forth.
The cities that will host teams are Boston, Chicago, Western New York, Portland, Seattle, New Jersey, Kansas City and Washington D.C.
The MLS announced its 2012 MLS Best Eleven on Monday and New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry was named as one of three forwards. The rest of the team, selected by the media, is as follows:
Goalkeeper – Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City), Defender – Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Defender – Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Defender – Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Midfielder – Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), Midfielder – Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Midfielder – Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Midfielder – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Forward – Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Forward – Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) and Forward – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).