CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 20: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy poses for a portrait following the 2011 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on November 20, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Dear David Beckham,
I just wanted to introduce myself first. My name is Matt, I'm 29-years-old and, to be honest, I didn't really get involved in soccer all that much until 2006. At that time, I was in Iraq. As you can imagine, soccer is beloved in Iraq, but what got me caught up in it was the fact that I couldn't friggin' escape it.
Since the 2006 World Cup was played in Germany, a mere two hours behind Iraq in terms of time zones, it meant that we could pretty much witness every match easily as it happened. Thus, I was forced to watch matches because frankly, there wasn't much else on TV when I wasn't patrolling.
That is when I really fell in love with the game. During this time of course Real Madrid was still in it's "Los Galácticos" period (though it was nearing it's end) and a TON of people liked Real Madrid which of course helped get me in to it. It wasn't until the announcement was made that Philadelphia would be getting an MLS team and that was all she wrote for little Matt here, I was truly hooked.
However, I'm not here to talk about all that. I'm here to talk about you and Major League Soccer.
You see, on January 11, 2007 is when it was confirmed that you would be leaving Real Madrid to come to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Honestly, the coup that this was could not be understated. You would turn 32 in 2007, certainly not a young stud, but not an over the hill player either. You still had plenty left in the tank and much like Pelé before him you wanted to conquer the United States.
The amount of press that you generated was fantastic worldwide news media took notice of the fact that you joined MLS. It was like Michael Jordan returning to basketball in 1995 and choosing to instead sign with FC Barcelona Bàsquet. The funny thing isn't about the publicity that your move generated, it was how you changed Major League Soccer nearly overnight.
With your signing (which in no way would have fit under the salary cap) MLS instituted the Designated Player Rule which allowed clubs to sign players that normally they wouldn't have a shot at. You were able to pave the way for Thierry Henry, Fredy Montero, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, & Guillermo Barros Schelotto to play for the league and boost the play and visibility of their respective teams.
The rule is still evolving of course, now teams can sign three players and the new young designated player rules only further help us sign and hold on to young talent that will help grow the league.
Your play was...erratic, injuries and sometimes the accusation that you "didn't care" followed you your entire time time here in America, but who cares? You got the championship that you wanted to win with the Galaxy.
With your imminent departure (let's be honest here David, Paris Saint-Germain will offer you more than the Galaxy ever could) the fact of the matter is, is that I'm not pleading with you to stay I'm actually wishing you all the best and I mean that as a diehard Union fan.
You helped grow the image of Major League Soccer here and abroad as well as update it's rules regarding player salaries. I still am a proponent of the salary cap and all it entails, however even I know that sometimes that the rules need to be bent in order to get better talent from around the world (as well as hold on to said talent) and you helped pave the way for that.
You are getting ready, most likely, to take your talents to Paris and hey, I'm not gonna plead with you to stay because Major League Soccer doesn't need the Beckham training wheels anymore, we're taking our bike and going off our own homemade ramps baby! We're becoming the league that has a bright and heady future ahead of it. Years from now we'll hopefully look back at your signing and say, "That was when the MLS turned it around. When it started moving towards being something to be reckoned with."
You've done a great deal for us, but we can take it from here and for that I gotta say one thing.
Thank you, David Beckham.