In the last year of his whopping 5 year $250,000,000 contract David Beckham will get a chance to play in the MLS Cup final for the 2nd time in 3 years. In the clash between the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo Beckham is the sentimental favorite to win his first championship in the United States. After 5 years the question still remains was the David Beckham experiment a success?
In 2007 the goal for the MLS was to sign soccer's most popular player and market the hell out of him. They wanted to increase the games popularity in the United States and give the league credibility across the world.
To be fair the play of David Beckham has been mediocre at best. He's had several injuries (most notably a torn Achilles tendon) that slowed down his production and at times has seemed indifferent about the Galaxy's performance on the field. In short David Beckham has been more persona than substance.
That's not to say the experiment hasn't paid dividends. Name recognition alone has increased the interest in the MLS and casual fans who never watched a soccer game in their life tuned in to see the superstar they had heard so much about. In addition, the MLS persuaded World Cup star Thierry Henry to come over and display his skills in the big apple. Without Beckham's presence that probably would never have happened.
In the end the league got what it wanted. More people watch soccer (if only to watch Beckham) and more international stars will entertain the idea of playing in the MLS. The irony is David Beckham's arrival hasn't increased the quality of play, but US soccer fans can't really tell the difference. So long as more people tune in and think they're watching high quality soccer the mission has been accomplished. Is it worth a quarter billion dollars to grow your sport and strengthen your league? Who am I to say it's not.