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David Beckham’s five biggest moments in U.S. Soccer


David Beckham helped make America at large turn its head and take notice of soccer. Going back, here are the major moments in the Beckham legacy and imprint on the United States soccer scene:

The big, showy announcement in Los Angeles: Everyone knew the Beckham tsunami was en route to Major League Soccer by early 2007. So his arrival July 12 introduction was certainly no surprise.

But the show! It’s all about the show, after all, when it comes to Brand Beckham and all that it implies.

Everyone important in domestic soccer was at Home Depot Center during a nationally televised introductory news conference – words not often strung together when it comes to soccer in the States, don’t you know. It was full of pomp and rockets and more than a few shrieking girls.

Beckham, his wife Victoria, and their three sons began their celebrated, much-photographed life in the United States. Oh, the Galaxy had already sold 250,000 replica jerseys by that sunny afternoon of high praise and golden promises.

Beckham’s MLS debut, July 22, 2007: Officially speaking, MLS began cashing the Brand Beckham checks in late July of 2007, as the former England captain and his gimpy left ankle made its long-awaited Galaxy debut in the 1-0 loss to Chelsea (in a friendly). One of the most celebrated nights of soccer ever in the United States had a big touch of the surreal. What I wrote at the time: “What a mad scene at the Home Depot Center, all at once an exercise in patience (due to that uncooperative left ankle) and a three-ring circus of traps, passes and paparazzi. Major League Soccer officially began cashing in on the nationally televised Beckham ballyhoo Saturday. Even if his 12 minutes on the field were mostly uneventful, the night was certainly unforgettable.”

Aug. 18, 2007, New York Red Bulls-LA Galaxy: There was so much pre-game build-up to this one, the notoriously uncooperative crew from Giants Stadium even removed those awful white football lines. How about that!

The Beckham spectacle was in full effect for his first official trip into New York. A crowd of 66,237 were there at Giants Stadium in what became an assault to anyone who enjoys their soccer with just a hint of defense. But it was entertaining and high-scoring, and it was nationally televised. Final score: Galaxy 5, Red Bulls 4.

The highlights are here.

The Beckham book: How rare it is that a soccer book gets the high-profile “excerpt” treatment. Maybe in England or Argentina or wherever – but not the United States! And yet there it was, the Beckham experiment in the large-distribution channels.

Grant Wahl’s book, published in 2009, “The Beckham Experiment,” pulled back the curtain on the combustible relationship between Beckham and Landon Donovan, the first and second-most recognizable names in American soccer at the time.

I wrote about the book back then: “Donovan and other Galaxy players question Beckham’s commitment. Additionally, the book details clumsy efforts to placate the Beckham camp’s desire that he immediately be named captain upon his ballyhooed 2007 arrival. And the loopy circumstances are revealed surrounding the organization’s introduction of Ruud Gullit as manager.”

(MORE: PHOTOS –The life and times of David Beckham)

Beckham’s final match, MLS Cup 2012: Like it or not – and a bunch of us found the timing rather tacky and a bit self-serving – the presiding narrative of MLS Cup 2012 was all about Beckham. He announced prior to Major League Soccer’s finale that the match would mark his final kick of ball here. He was moving on.

Yes, it did suck attention away from the teams and other “peripheral” figures, a.k.a. the other 21 starters, the two coaches and any key backups. But it make the occasion bigger, and isn’t that, at its core, what Beckham was always all about for MLS?

(MORE: Bigger impact on game’s growth here, Beckham or Pele?)

(MORE: Beckham’s most memorable moments on the world stage)

WATCH: FC Dallas rocket goal sends Guatemalan rainwater flying off net

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Carlos Lizarazo #22 of FC Dallas looks on during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.

The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

FC Dallas advances, giving MLS three teams in CONCACAF Champions League quarters

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Jesse Gonzalez #1 of FC Dallas throws the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Major League Soccer will have three teams in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League thanks to FC Dallas’ thrilling comeback win on Thursday.

FCD beat Guatemalan side Suchitepéquez 5-2 at the Estadio Mateo Flores after going down by a pair of first half goals.

[ WATCH: Pogba’s classy UEL goal ]

Carlos Gruezo and Matt Hedges helped Dallas to level terms by halftime, and Atiba Harris scored just after the break to put FCD ahead. An own goal and a must-watch Carlos Lizarazo 90th minute wonderstrike gave us the final scoreline. Gruezo also added an assist.

A tie would’ve been enough to send Dallas through atop Group H, but the big win moves it ahead of New York Red Bulls. FCD will finish seventh at worst.

FCD joins Vancouver and New York Red Bulls as the MLS representatives in the tournament, and the league will have at-worst the joint-most clubs in the quarters.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Mexican sides UANL Tigres and Pachuca are quarterfinalists, while Panamanian side Arabe Unido and Costa Rican stalwarts Saprissa advanced as well.

The field’s eighth team will be set after the 10 p.m. ET matchup between Honduras Progreso and Mexico’s UNAM.

The Whitecaps are the No. 1 seed, and could well match-up with the Red Bulls if there is a winner between UNAM and Honduras Progreso. If Honduras Progreso advances via draw, the Hondurans will be the No. 8 seed.

Florida businessman pleads guilty in FIFA corruption case

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Aaron Davidson, a sports marketing executive from Florida, leaves a Brooklyn court house with his lawyer after pleading not guilty on Friday to conspiracy and other charges resulting from the FIFA corruption scandal on May 29, 2015 in New York City. Since the case was announced earlier this week, Davidson is the first defendant to be arraigned in a U.S. court.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) A Florida businessman pleaded guilty in New York to conspiracy charges Thursday in a scheme to pay bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches.

Aaron Davidson, 45, entered the plea in Brooklyn federal court. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen was set for April 24, when Davidson could face decades in prison. As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit more than a half-million dollars.

[ WATCH: Pogba’s classy goal ]

Davidson was arrested last year in the FIFA probe after prosecutors said soccer officials accepted $150 million in bribes over a 24-year period in exchange for rigging bids for lucrative marketing rights. Davidson ran a Miami-based marketing firm. He was arrested along with more than a dozen other people in a case prosecuted in the United States on the grounds that illegal payments used U.S. banks and those involved conducted meetings in the United States.

Prosecutors said Davidson negotiated and agreed to make bribe payments totaling more than $14 million, executing multiple criminal schemes including the agreement to pay bribes to a high-ranking official of FIFA, CONCACAF, the Caribbean Football Union and one of FIFA’s national member associations.

[ MORE: Why Pogba took PK over Rooney ]

The government said the bribes were paid to secure lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches for his company, Traffic USA, and its business partners.

Prosecutors said those sports events included FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, among others.

The government said its investigation continues.

UEFA president talks up Champions League final in U.S.

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 22:  UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin poses for a picture during UEFA Euro Roma 2020 Official Logo Unveiling on September 22, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is open to the idea of the UEFA Champions League final being played outside Europe.

Specifically, Ceferin thinks about New York.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

Ceferin said Thursday that staging the first ever UCL final away from Europe would be discussed at some point.

From FOX:

“To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. For the fans it’s no problem but we should see. It’s a European competition so let’s think about it.”

Given the preseason matches played in the United States, China, and Australia, it makes sense to stage an important UEFA match outside Europe. Those first two countries especially aim to become power players in the game, and certainly it would benefit UEFA to showcase its absolute finest (if only as a reminder).

We don’t get to see entire first teams playing the game in earnest when friendlies hit U.S. soil, and the successful Copa America showed UEFA that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF trust the States with critical matches.

Selfishly, of course we want this. And selfishly, of course Europe wants to keep it. Their fans wouldn’t necessarily want to take an incredibly expensive trip to see a UCL final.