Remembering David Beckham's Arrival at LA Galaxy

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2015

CARSON, CA - JULY 13:  David Beckham is officialy announced as a  LA Galaxy Player at the Home depot Stadium on July 13, 2007 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Eight years ago, Major League Soccer sent shock waves across the world when it announced the landmark signing of David Beckham from Real Madrid. 

In the years following the deal, it remains one of, if not the, most influential moments in league history. 

At the time of the acquisition, no one involved in the deal could've imagined the immense impact the Beckham deal and consequential Designated Player rule would have on the young American league. 

Although Beckham has not played in MLS since 2012, his impact on the league will be felt for decades, as MLS owes many things to the Manchester United legend.

When Beckham joined up with the LA Galaxy in the summer of 2007, the club had already established itself among the league's elite thanks to two MLS Cup victories in 2002 and 2005. 

Despite those successes, the Galaxy needed something to reinvigorate the fanbase after finishing in fifth place in the Western Conference in 2006. New signings were expected to during the offseason, but no one expected Beckham to be the primary acquisition prior to the 2007 season. 

Beckham's Galaxy debut came against Chelsea in a friendly at the Home Depot Center on July 21, 2007. He made his first league appearance against D.C. United a few weeks later after recovering from an injury.

Beckham prepares to enter the 2007 friendly with Chelsea
Beckham prepares to enter the 2007 friendly with ChelseaMark Avery/Associated Press

The international superstar may not have made an immediate impact on the Galaxy's results, but his presence helped build a foundation for a successful four-year run. 

Beginning in 2009, Beckham and the Galaxy ascended to the Western Conference throne under the management of Bruce Arena, who replaced Ruud Gullit in August 2008. The former United States men's national team boss was given the task of cleaning up Gullit's mess.

Arena turned things around right away, as the Galaxy finished atop the West in his first full season in charge. After getting past Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Galaxy found themselves back in the MLS Cup Final against Real Salt Lake. 

The two clubs squared off at Seattle's Qwest Field in what turned out to be one of the best MLS Cup finales in league history. The two sides were tied at 1-1 heading into extra time, which failed to produce a goal.

Beckham was the first scorer in the penalty shootout for the Galaxy, but they were unable to defeat the upstart RSL side after misses by Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski and Edson Buddle. 

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 22:  (L-R) David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy stands with coach Bruce Arena following their defeat by Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final at Qwest Field on November 22, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Im
Harry How/Getty Images

Despite suffering that massive heartbreak in 2009, the Galaxy remained a contender for the title under the brilliant Arena.

After being bounced by FC Dallas in the 2010 Western Conference Final, the Galaxy advanced to the first of two straight MLS Cup showpieces against the Dynamo. 

The Galaxy were able to qualify for the 2011 MLS Cup Final behind the contributions of Beckham, Donovan and newly minted designated player Robbie Keane, who made his debut in August after joining the club from Tottenham Hotspur.

Powered by Donovan's 72nd-minute goal, the Galaxy hoisted the first of two MLS Cups in the Beckham era in front of their home crowd at the Home Depot Center. 

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 20: David Beckham at the MLS cup final held at The Home Depot Center on November 20, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)
Toby Canham/Getty Images

"David’s a champion. I’ve been around great athletes and competitors in my life in different sports, and this guy is as good as it comes," Arena told reporters after the match. "He has an unbelievable desire to win. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. I’m so happy for him. He’s done it all now – in every country he’s been in."

A year later, the same two sides met in a match that carried more importance, as it was Beckham's last game in a Galaxy kit. Behind three second-half goals, the Galaxy were able to send Beckham out with a trophy. 

"I just hope people have enjoyed me playing here and watching me play for the Galaxy," Beckham said after the match. "It's what I always hope for when I step on the field...I think I had a successful time here, but it's up to other people to decide that.

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 01:  David Beckham #23 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates the 3-1 victory against the Houston Dynamo with sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz after winning the 2012 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on December 1, 2012 in Carson, California.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

"It's better going out with two titles than one, obviously. It's been a successful six years here, reaching three MLS Cup Finals and winning two," he continued. "Winning the second one, it's even more satisfying. I'll enjoy this one tonight, I think."

Before he departed MLS for a brief spell at Paris Saint-Germain, Beckham scored 18 goals and registered 40 assists in 98 games for the Galaxy. Aside from the statistical contributions, Beckham helped grow the league from a business perspective. Without the presence of the England international in America, MLS would never haven taken off as fast as it did.

Beckham did play a major role in the success of the Galaxy, especially during his last four years in Los Angeles. But his true mark on the league will be the institution of the Designated Player rule. 

The rule, which some refer to as "The Beckham Rule", allows each team to sign a maximum of three players to contracts that exceed a certain monetary threshold.

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy crosses during the MLS match against the Vancouver Whitecaps at The Home Depot Center on September 1, 2012 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated the Whitecaps 2-0.  (Photo by Vic
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

This rule allowed Beckham to come over to the United States, and it also paved the way for players such as Thierry Henry and Keane to make the switch to MLS. 

In its early years, the Designated Player rule was used to acquire South American talent and a few Europeans, such as Freddie Ljungberg, who signed with the Seattle Sounders in 2008. 

The second game-changing signing made under the unique rule was the 2010 addition of Thierry Henry to the roster of the New York Red Bulls.

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls and David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy shake hands before playing in their Western Conference Semifinal at The Home Depot Center on November 3, 2011 in Carson, California.  (P
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Henry, who recently retired from the game, made a massive impact on the New York market despite failing to achieve a championship with the Red Bulls.

Keane followed Beckham and Henry into the league in 2011 and has arguably experienced more success than they did. The Republic of Ireland international was named the 2014 MLS Most Valuable Player and has won three MLS Cups in four years with the Galaxy.

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 01:  David Beckham #23 and Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrate the 3-1 victory against the Houston Dynamo to win the 2012 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on December 1, 2012 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Ge
Harry How/Getty Images

Outside of the European market, the rule has helped MLS clubs acquire exceptional talent from South America such as Javier Morales, Federico Higuain and Diego Valeri.

After six years of big-name international signings, the league finally used the rule to bring one of the top Americans back to the league in 2013. Since the arrival of Clint Dempsey in Seattle, eight United States internationals have earned the title of designated player.

Without the arrival of Beckham on American shores in 2007, we may not have seen this major influx of American talent back into MLS. Thanks to the Designated Player rule, the league has been able to improve its talent pool and appeal to stars of the United States men's national team, who may not have returned home before the Beckham signing.

Not only did Beckham influence MLS in regards to player acquisition, he also improved the business structure of the league. 

The 2007 season, which was Beckham's first in the league, marked the first time clubs were able to sell jersey sponsorship. The biggest deal of them all was the one between the Galaxy and Herbalife, which still sponsors the team's shirt today.

CARSON, CA - APRIL 14:  David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy reacts after scoring his second half goal against the Portland Timbers at The Home Depot Center on April 14, 2012 in Carson, California.  The Galaxy won 3-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Six clubs took advantage of the jersey deals in 2007, including Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and Chivas USA. Houston and New York were the other two teams with brand names on the front of their shirts. 

Fast forward to the 2015 season and just one club, the San Jose Earthquakes, is without a jersey sponsor at present. The companies on the shirts of MLS clubs include brands such as Xbox, Quaker, Bell Canada and Etihad Airways. 

While earning shirt sponsors would have eventually happened in MLS at some point, the arrival of Beckham allowed it to happen in the league's 12th year of existence. Entering its 20th season, MLS has seen its jerseys become a popular billboard for companies that are willing to pay big money. 

Another key financial aspect of the league that can be attributed in some way to Beckham is the television contract.

Without a star such as Beckham entering into the league, all MLS' television partners would have had to advertise the league's games in 2007 was Donovan, who was the biggest name in MLS at the time. 

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  David Beckham #23 (L)  and Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrate after Donovan's goal on a penalty kick against  Houston Dynamo during the MLS Western Conference Championship soccer match at The Home Depot Cente
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Other than that, MLS did not present broadcasters with any reason to show soccer each week, especially after the USMNT's World Cup disaster in Germany during the summer of 2006.

Beckham may not have made soccer a viable television asset right away. But by the time he left, MLS had deals to broadcast its games on NBC Sports Network and ESPN each week. Before the 2015 season, MLS agreed to a new eight-year deal with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision worth $90 million per year, per Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald.

Just like the addition of international players, a big television contract would have come with time for MLS. But thanks to the Beckham signing, which provided strong interest in the league, MLS was able to benefit from a major television deal ahead of its 20th season.

Heading into the 20th season of play in MLS, Beckham's impact can be felt in every corner of the United States and Canada.

By way of the "Beckham Rule," his former club was able to obtain the signature of Steven Gerrard, who will move to California from Liverpool in the summer.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool prepares to take a corner during the FA Cup Third Round match between AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on January 5, 2015 in Kingston upon Thames, Englan
Michael Regan/Getty Images

“I’m very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy,” Gerrard told the Galaxy's website after his signing was made official. “The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come."

Gerrard isn't the only former international teammate of Beckham making noise in MLS this offseason. Frank Lampard, whose contract situation is finally resolved, will join expansion side New York City FC in July, which is when Gerrard will join LA.

On top of the confirmed arrivals, MLS has been linked with plenty of big-name American players such as Jozy Altidore and Mix Diskerud during the current offseason.

All of the players listed above would not have been able to come to MLS if the Designated Player rule was not intact. 

Off the field, Beckham is involved in a Miami bid to become an expansion franchise, but that plan has hit a snag due to complications with securing a stadium location. 

MIAMI, FL - MAY 6:  Former Soccer player David Beckham watches the Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2014 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on May 6, 2014.  NOTE TO USER: U
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

"If we can’t get the right stadium, we can’t go to Miami," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in October. "We have been challenged to find a site that we believe will be successful." 

Regardless of whether he does eventually bring a team to Miami, his continued efforts to expand the reach of the league shows how much MLS meant to Beckham. 

While we can attribute some of the league's success over the last eight years to other players and events, the signing of Beckham opened the door for MLS to become what it is today. 

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @JTansey90