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.