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Beckham back with LA Galaxy

Posted on 20 January 2012 by iyeo

Chalk up another win for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Only this one wasn’t just for them, it perhaps was an important win for MLS as well. Despite massive offers from numerous European clubs, David Beckham officially chose to remain in the United States, agreeing to new multi-year contract with the Galaxy that keeps the famed midfielder in Los Angeles through the 2013 MLS season.

“I’m committed to the Galaxy. I’m excited about this beginning again,” Beckham said. “We’ve got a very special team, special players, a great staff (and) great owners who look after us and make our lives very special to be a part of the team, this franchise.”

As part of the new agreement between Beckham and the Galaxy, the midfielder will be allowed to be absent from the team during the Summer Olympics, which will be held in London this July. Beckham is expected be one of three overage players selected to compete for the Great Britain squad in the Olympics. The new contract also affirms his right to purchase an MLS franchise once his playing career ends.

“The Galaxy had to be right for him and the league had to be right,” Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena said. “David coming back to LA confirms that MLS is making progress (and) he believes in the sport in America and he believes in the Galaxy. ”

Beckham enjoyed his finest season in 2011, as he helped the Galaxy win the MLS Cup while setting up 15 goals, which was one behind Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis. Beckham’s stellar season earned him a spot on MLS’ Best XI team and also the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, as Beckham’s great season came one year after missing most of the 2010 season due to injury.

Beckham began to draw interest from several European clubs, even before the season began, as Beckham was entering the final year of a five-year 250 million dollar contract (though the actual number was 32.5 million). Interest from abroad only picked up as the season went along, with clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers and clubs in Asia and the Middle East being linked to the midfielder.

No club was ambitious about securing Beckham’s services more than Paris Saint Germain. The French Club, owned by Qatar Investment Authority, aspires to be on the same level as European powers Manchester United and FC Barcelona, and they saw the acquisition of Beckham as the first step towards that goal. PSG was serious enough to offer Beckham and 18-month contract that would’ve paid him approximately one million dollars a month.

Yet PSG’s massive riches was apparently not enough to overcome the lure of living in Los Angeles and more importantly, the desires of his family. Beckham and his family have more than established themselves in LA and the possibility of having to uproot his family to another location for a third time apparently did not sit well with Beckham.

“We’ve been very happy here for the last five years, and we felt ‘why change something that works,’” Beckham said about his family situation. “The kids love it here (and) I love living here. Los Angeles has been good to us as a family.”

Beckham’s return to Los Angeles for the next two season continues the wild ride of Beckham’s time in Los Angeles and MLS that began five years ago, almost to the day when Beckham rocked the sports world by announcing his intention of signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham’s glorious introduction on a sunny July morning at the Home Depot Center was seen as the first step towards taking the Galaxy, MLS and the popularity of the sport in the United States to new heights.

That adventure though got off to a rocky start, as the Galaxy missed the playoffs his first two seasons with the Galaxy, but even worse, turmoil gripped the organization, as players and managers went in and out and the Galaxy locker room became a toxic situation. The low point came in August 2008, when after a 2-1 loss to the then-expansion San Jose Earthquakes, then-manager Ruud Gullit resigned and then-manager Alexi Lalas was fired.

In stepped Bruce Arena, who assumed both positions and immediately began the process of re-tooling the club, but first Arena had to concern himself with Beckham, who went to AC Milan on a short term loan in January of 2009. Immediately, speculation began that Beckham would try to force a permanent stay in Italy, but the Galaxy stood firm, and ultimately, an agreement was worked out that allowed Beckham to remain with the Rossoneri through the end of the Serie A season before returning to LA for the remainder of the 2009 MLS season.

The drama though was only heating up. Just before Beckham was set to rejoin the Galaxy that year, excerpts from a book entitled “The Beckham Experiment” revealed a falling out with the Galaxy’s other star, Landon Donovan. That fire was quickly put out, but then came a highly publicized confrontation with a member of Galaxy supporters group LA Riot Squad in his first game back in a Galaxy shirt. Yet through all the distractions, Beckham played a key role in the Galaxy’s turnaround season that culminated with a trip to the MLS Cup final, but ended in cruel fashion, as they lost to Real Salt Lake on penalties.

Beckham almost didn’t have a 2010 MLS season, as he returned to AC Milan on another short-term loan with the hopes of making England’s World Cup roster, but that quest ended abruptly, as he tore his Achilles in March, and his status as far as the 2010 MLS season was thrown into doubt. Beckham however defied the odds, returning to action in September, but his presence wasn’t enough to get the Galaxy back to the MLS Cup final, as they lost in embarrassing fashion to FC Dallas in the Western Conference Final. 2011 however was a different story, as the Galaxy, bouyed by the mid-season acquisition of Irish striker Robbie Keane, won its second straight Supporters Shield and in front of 30,000 at the Home Depot Center on a rainy Sunday evening in November, captured the franchise’ third MLS Cup.

“We’re very grateful for what David has done the past five years, but we’re even more excited about the upcoming year,” said Tim Leiweke, president of Galaxy ownership group AEG.

The year begins Monday with the start of preseason training. The Galaxy’s first competitive match of 2012 will be in CONCACAF Champions League play, as they play the first of a two-match series against Toronto FC at the Rogers Centre on March 7 before they open the MLS season three days later, as they host Real Salt Lake in a rematch of last year’s thrilling Western Conference Final.

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