Sports

By making growth of soccer in US his pet project, Beckham gave MLS credibility, visibility

  • FILE - In this July 13, 2007, file photo, England soccer player David Beckham holds up his new jersey as he is introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team in Carson, Calif. The 38-year-old midfielder, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday, May 16, 2013, he will retire after the season.  (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

    FILE - In this July 13, 2007, file photo, England soccer player David Beckham holds up his new jersey as he is introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team in Carson, Calif. The 38-year-old midfielder, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday, May 16, 2013, he will retire after the season. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 21, 2003, file photo, English soccer player David Beckham greets fans after his presentation by Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain. The 38-year-old midfielder, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday, May 16, 2013, he will retire after the season. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)

    FILE - In this July 21, 2003, file photo, English soccer player David Beckham greets fans after his presentation by Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain. The 38-year-old midfielder, who recently won a league title in a fourth country with Paris Saint-Germain, said Thursday, May 16, 2013, he will retire after the season. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This undted photo provided by H&M shows a look from the collection created and modeled by David Beckham. Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity. (AP Photo/H&M, Alasdair McLellan)

    FILE - This undted photo provided by H&M shows a look from the collection created and modeled by David Beckham. Beckham is retiring from soccer, ending a career in which he transcended the sport with forays into fashion and a marriage to a pop star that made him a global celebrity. (AP Photo/H&M, Alasdair McLellan)  (The Associated Press)

Ask someone in Asia or Europe a decade ago what they knew about the Galaxy, and odds are the answer would have been limited to planets or stars. Nowadays, it's likely to include a reference to "Beckham's team," the Major League Soccer franchise in Los Angeles.

By making the growth of soccer in the United States his pet project, David Beckham put the sport on a fast track, giving it the kind of legitimacy and visibility it would have taken decades to reach on its own. He spiked interest and attendance in MLS among both fans and corporate America, and sales of his jersey gave the league visibility around the globe.

He's not necessarily done yet, either. Though Beckham announced his retirement Thursday, he has said repeatedly he intends to exercise his option to buy an MLS team.