Midfielder to end six-year playing career with LA on Dec. 1
LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham announced today that MLS Cup 2012 on Saturday, December 1 will be his final competitive game with the club. Originally signed in January 2007, Beckham has spent the past six seasons with the Galaxy, helping lead the club to three MLS Cup berths, including the third championship in club history in 2011 when they beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in MLS Cup 2011 at The Home Depot Center in front of a then-stadium record of more than 30,000 fans.
During his playing career with the Galaxy, Beckham catapulted Major League Soccer onto the world stage, dramatically enhancing its profile globally and increasing the popularity of soccer in the United States.
The arrival of Beckham in Southern California and Major League Soccer has coincided with a period of unrivaled growth for both the Galaxy and the league, which is approaching the conclusion of its 17th season. Seven expansion teams - Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Jose and Toronto FC - have debuted since 2007 while 15 of the league’s 19 teams now play in soccer specific stadiums, up from five prior to 2007. Attendance at those stadiums are at unprecedented highs with an average of 18,807 fans attending games during the 2012 MLS regular season and nearly 22,000 fans turning out per game in the postseason. Additionally, exposure and recognition of the Galaxy and MLS are at all-time highs with the league maintaining national television broadcast deals with ESPN, NBC Sports and Univision while the Galaxy reached a 10-year broadcast deal with Time Warner Cable Sports in November 2011 that is the most lucrative in MLS history.
"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. "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, who is managed by Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, added, "In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year. I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in L.A. and across the States. Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country and I want to always be part of growing it."
In his six seasons with the Galaxy, Beckham appeared in 98 regular season games, tallying 18 goals and adding 40 assists, good for the fourth most in club history. An MLS Best XI selection in 2011 and a three-time MLS All-Star, Beckham also helped the Galaxy qualify for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in each of the last two years and reach the Western Conference Championship in each of the past four years, advancing to MLS Cup three times. Beckham has excelled in the postseason, appearing in and starting all 16 playoff games that the Galaxy have played since 2009. In that time, he has recorded eight assists, which are the third most in club history, meaning that he has set up one third of his team’s goals in that time. He set an MLS record by becoming the first player ever to register an assist in five consecutive postseason games, including one in all four of LA’s games during their run to the 2011 MLS Cup championship.
“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 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.”
A veteran of three World Cups and the most capped field player in England history, Beckham made 115 appearances for his country, scoring 17 goals while captaining the side on more than 50 occasions. His club career prior to coming to MLS was equally stellar, having won six Premier League titles during a sensational 12-year career at Manchester United that also saw him win the FA Cup twice and the 1999 UEFA Champions League title, helping United claim the “Treble” that season, winning the Premier League and FA Cup in addition to the Champions League. In July 2003, Beckham moved to Spain, signing with Real Madrid. In his final season at the Bernabeu, Beckham helped lead Madrid to the 2006-07 La Liga title, ending a four year title drought. Following that season, Beckham officially joined the Galaxy, debuting in a friendly against Chelsea at The Home Depot Center.
“When David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007, he set out to help grow MLS and the sport of soccer in North America,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived. David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the LA Galaxy and the League.”
Welcome to the RSL Cup blog
I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996. Lately however I've started to worry about the path MLS is taking and the poor decisions they are making that in my mind threaten the growth of soccer as a whole in the US. (see "Columbus conspiracy" section) Soccer in America will grow only when we have a vibrant and diverse minor league system, something that MLS seems to be smothering at the moment. (see "American soccer wars" section) Let's keep our eyes on the situation and hope for the best, a future where grass-roots soccer and the minor leagues can not only exist but flourish, as well as where the contributions and history of the league's early clubs are appreciated and preserved.