Don Garber says the signing of David Beckham in 2007 showed the world that Major League Soccer was and is to be taken seriously.
The MLS Commissioner believes the arrival of the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan midfielder have credibility to the North American league and feels that the competition would not be where it now is without the LA Galaxy star.
“David coming to Major League Soccer — arguably one of the most popular cultural figures in the world today, in or outside the sports business — was a statement to a really broad global audience that MLS was serious, that we were a legitimate league,” Garber told the LA Times.
“His signing said that we were serious about building this sport in our country and the league would be the engine to drive the growth of this sport. And he had so many other [qualities] that just raised the creditability of our league that I can say unequivocally that without him the league wouldn't be where it is today.
“Part 2 of that story is that it also says to a global market of soccer players that, 'Hey, if it's good enough for David Beckham it's probably good enough for you.'”
With Beckham coming out of contract following the 2011 MLS season – which concludes on November 20 when the Galaxy meet Houston Dynamo in the Cup final – Garber admits it would be nice to see the ex-England international remain but says the competition can move on without him.
“We certainly have been able to establish … a very, very robust soccer market that we will continue to build and nurture. David has been a big part of that story,” he added.
“But I don't think any league or any club can rely too much on any one player as the person that we all depend on. I think we're well past that. That said, we are certainly hopeful that David re-signs with the Galaxy.”