The Beckham Rule of MLS

Big European talents like Rooney, Zlatan, Lampard, David Villa, and many others have graced the MLS at some time in their careers. It has become a common norm in the football world to play in the MLS when it is nearing the twilight of one’s career.

This trend has been prevalent for over a decade, but it was sparked by one flamboyant English superstar.

David Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007, becoming the first major European superstar to play in the United States. The Englishman, towards the end of his career, took a risk and moved to a land where football was still finding its foothold.

In retrospect, Beckham may have simply helped to make football big in America.

All of this could not have been possible if it wasn’t for the creation of one rule. This one rule helped bring in global sensations like David Beckham.

But first, a brief history lesson that eventually led to the adoption of this rule.

Football was not finding its feet in the USA until the early 2000s. But all of that changed when the USA to everyone’s surprise reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup. This led to an increase in demand for the sport in the country and MLS became its leading supplier.

As a result, in the years preceding up to the 2006 World Cup, Major League Soccer (MLS) saw a tremendous change. After marketing itself on the talents of American players, the league saw some of its native stars leave for more prestigious European leagues.

Tim Howard, the MetroStars’ goalkeeper, was traded to Manchester United in one of the most lucrative contract packages in league history. DaMarcus Beasley of the Chicago Fire joined PSV Eindhoven, while Landon Donovan, on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, joined PSV Eindhoven.

The MLS saw a steady rise, and it was gaining legitimacy within the country.

Witnessing this never-before-seen rise of football in the country, the MLS saw a potential opportunity to take the game to the next level. This is when Designated Player Rule was brought into place a.k.a. ‘The Beckham Rule’.

The Designated Player Rule, allows Major League Soccer franchises to sign up to three players that would be considered outside their salary cap.

The goal of this rule is to internationalize the game and attract worldwide superstars such as David Beckham to the league. Because there is no budget cap, big-name players can be enticed in exchange for significant quantities of money.

Beckham was the first player signed under this rule, signing a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy with a guaranteed annual salary of $6.5 million.

Since he was the first, the Designated Player Rule is also nicknamed ‘The Beckham Rule’.

The introduction of the SuperLiga, which paired top MLS clubs against top Mexican clubs in order to provide more meaningful competition for both leagues, was another move taken to legitimize the MLS.

This period also saw expansion reach beyond the United States’ borders into Canada, beginning with Toronto FC.

As of 2022, there are 28 teams in the first division, with plans to add two more in the future. After a rough start since its inception in 1996, MLS in 2022 is huge in America, and that trend is only going to grow upwards.

David Beckham has accomplished a great deal throughout his time in Europe. Aside from that, he may add one more accomplishment to his resume that is, he made football famous in the United States of America.

David Beckham – the most popular footballer in America.