I started out writing a MLS Cup preview article with a recap of the Galaxy defeating the Seattle Sounders 4-2 on aggregate, earning the right to host MLS Cup versus the Houston Dynamo on December 1st. Then the news broke that the MLS Cup will be David Beckham's final game with the L.A. Galaxy. The preview can wait. Tonight all I want to do is say thank you.
Thank you David Beckham, Major League Soccer, and the L.A. Galaxy for taking a leap at a time when many others would not. It wasn't always easy, but the end result was clearly a success. The exposure that Beckham's arrival gave Major League Soccer in the U.S. and around the world is priceless, ushering in a new era that many MLS fans have labeled MLS 2.0 and helping raise soccer in America to new heights.
The Beckham signing wasn't without speed bumps. I will never forget Alexi Lalas introducing Beckham and proclaiming the L.A. Galaxy as a super club. I will never forget his debut on July 21, 2007 as a injured Beckham was thrust into the spotlight prematurely. The league was asking the man to carry it, bad ankle or not.
It was was a circus at times. The 2007 season was something I am sure MLS regrets in retrospect, parading the Galaxy all over the league in a back-loaded schedule. 2008 featured "Sexy Football" with Beckham's hand picked Ruud Gullit taking over as coach, only to get fired and replaced by Bruce Arena. 2009 featured a loan to AC Milan and what appeared to be an exit strategy by Beckham, along with a tell all book by Grant Wahl which exposed major dysfunction within the Galaxy and a major rift between Beckham and Landon Donovan. When Beckham rejoined the Galaxy in a home friendly against AC Milan, he was greeted with boos and was involved in a classic altercation with The L.A. Riot Squad that will live forever in MLS lore.