American dream: 'Beckham experiment' in pictures


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The Independent Football

As David Beckham celebrates his first trophy with the LA Galaxy, it seems his presence has finally helped the MLS become a commercial success story. Here we take a look at Beckham's career in America.

1. Beckham left Real Madrid and joined LA Galaxy in July 2007 for a reported deal worth $250m. The move was surrounded with much fan-fare, as well as much scepticism, particularly in Europe, about the England midfielder’s motivation for moving to the US.

2. His signing resulted in the club being able to pull off a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Herbalife nutrition company worth $20m as well as a peak increase in their ticket revenues. Galaxy jersey sales had already reached a record figure of over 250,000 prior to this formal introduction.

3. Beckham made his debut on 21 July 2007 as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea as part of the World Series of Soccer pre-season tournament, but picked up an injury ruling him out for the next four games.

4. On 5 August the team caused a stir when they flew on a charter flight for an away match rather than flying commercial (MLS normally forbids charter flights claming they provide competitive advantage). They also stayed in a five star hotel instead of the usual MLS-mandated modest hotels.

5. Beckham made his league debut on 9 August 2007 as a substitute in the 1-0 away defeat to DC United in front of a sell-out crowd of 46,686, nearly three times the average DC United home crowd.

6. He made his first start, again against DC United, in the SuperLiga semi-final on 15 August. He was made captain and scored his first goal for the club from a free-kick as well as setting up Landon Donovan in the 2-0 victory. In the final against Pachuca, he injured his knee ruling him out for six weeks. Beckham failed to lay his hands on his first piece of silverware as Galaxy were defeated on penalties in the cup competition comprising teams from across north America.

7. He returned for the final MLS game of the season on 21 October as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Chicago Fire in which Galaxy were eliminated from play-off contention. He finished the season playing eight matches, with one goal and three assists.

8. The following season he scored a goal from the half-way line against Kansas Wizards, reminiscent of his Manchester United goal against Wimbledon. Overall it was a disappointing season as the California based side failed to qualify for the end of season play-offs again.

9. After his loan move to AC Milan his team-mate Donovan criticised the move saying “my sense is that David is clearly frustrated, that he’s unhappy and, honestly, that he thinks it’s a joke. I also kind of feel that he’s taking the team for granted. I don’t see dedication or commitment to this team, and that’s troubling”. Beckham branded the comments “unprofessional”.

10. After he returned from Milan the following season, some LA fans showed their anger towards him missing the first half of the season, holding up signs saying “Go home fraud” and “Part time player”. One fan enraged Beckham so much that the former England captain jumped the advertisement boards and tried to confront him.

11. His return however inspired their rise from third to first in the Western Conference. He also played a key role in winning the Western Conference final with a 2-0 defeat over Houston Dynamo. However they lost the MLS Cup final on 22 November 2009 in a penalty shoot-out to Real Salt Lake in which Beckham scored.

12. After his second spell at Milan he returned to help guide the team to their second Western Conference final in as many years, but saw Galaxy beaten 3-0 by FC Dallas. They won their first MLS Supporters’ Shield since 2002, which recognises the team with the best regular season record.

13. This season LA Galaxy beat New York Red Bulls to reach their third successive Western Conference final where they beat Real Salt Lake 3-1. Beckham picked up assists against both teams as Galaxy advanced to their second MLS final during Beckham’s time at the club.

14. Having already retained  the MLS Supporters’ Shield this season, LA Galaxy also won the MLS championship beating Houston Dynamo in the final.