David Beckham in US: He came, he sold, he conquered
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Only after the injury did he seem to focus on MLS. His relationship with Galaxy co-star Landon Donovan improved – Donovan took back the captain's armband – and Beckham helped Los Angeles to three straight league finals – beating Houston in the title game in 2011 and this year. He scored 20 goals in 116 competitive appearances over 6 1/2 years.
Only in television ratings did MLS fail to achieve a long-term boost. The league's regular-season telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 311,000 viewers this year, up less than 5 percent over 2007.
Rafa Marquez, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane followed him to MLS. Frank Lampard and Kaka may become the next big stars to join the league.
The very best players, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real's Cristiano Ronaldo, are far too good and far too expensive to leave Europe for MLS right now, a league still in its developmental stage.
Beckham, though, made it acceptable for stars just past their primes to trek across the Atlantic as salesmen and scorers. After the next stop in his playing career – likely the last – Beckham intends to return to MLS as an owner.
"I know it's the No. 1 sport in the world. There's other great sports here, of course, I believe it can compete with the basketball. I believe it can compete with American football and baseball,'' Beckham said. "That's why I'm totally committed to that.''