It seems like David Beckham is returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy. As a Philadelphia Union fan, you might think that this move doesn't really mean whole lot to me. However, this is a significant development. Beckham's decision to spurn Europe and rejoin the Galaxy says a lot about the legitimacy of American soccer. With Beckham nearing a return to MLS, the league can take pride in its increased stature. This is big news for all MLS fans, not just those of the Galaxy.
When Beckham arrived in Major League Soccer five years ago, it came with a ton of hype. One of the biggest soccer stars in the world was joining a still growing league. Beckham's international appeal and drawing power helped turn the Galaxy into a force. By extension, the rest of the league saw ratings and attendance boosts shortly after Beckham arrived. Each team in the league circled the game in which the Galaxy visited. The Union and their fans were no different. Anyone can tell you that no MLS game has been bigger for the Union than the two in which the Galaxy visited. With Beckham set to return in 2012, it looks like that will happen again.
The impact of Beckham's decision won't directly help the Union and other teams, but it will have a ripple effect. The league has done a nice job of recruiting international stars to play. Other big names have followed Beckham's lead over the last few years. I expect more will follow. By opting for MLS, Beckham is saying that he respects the league enough to continue playing in it. It is no secret that other countries, especially those in Europe, don't take MLS seriously. But moves like this will continue to change that perception.
Beckham's return is the latest bit of good news for MLS. The league continues to improve its attendance numbers. It has a nice new television deal with NBC. It continues to expand to new markets. Stars like Beckham really help the entire brand, not just the team that gives him a contract. 2012 promises to be another step forward for Major League Soccer. It looks like things are off to a good start.