David Beckham isn’t done with MLS yet.
The LA Galaxy announced on Wednesday that the league’s most celebrated Designated Player will return for another season in 2012, ending months of speculation that the Beckham Era in MLS had reached its conclusion.
Instead, the 36-year-old superstar has re-upped for two more years with the Galaxy in hopes of defending the MLS Cup championship he helped them win last November. Beckham, who was named to the MLS Best XI last season for the first time since joining MLS midway through the 2007 season, became the first Designated Player in league history to hoist the MLS Cup when LA topped the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at the Home Depot Center on Nov. 25.
"This was an important decision for me,” Beckham said in a club statement. “I had many offers from clubs from around the world, however, I'm still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy.”
Speculation was abound after that iconic moment that Beckham’s days in MLS were numbered, and that we would likely leave the league for a potential return to Europe or hang up his boots for a possible spot in the Galaxy front office.
The most lucrative and high-profile offer to tempt him away from Los Angeles came via famed French club Paris-Saint Germain, now backed by wealthy Qatari owners who dangled a reported 18-month, $17.9 million deal to lure Beckham to France.
English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur also threw their hat into the ring to land the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, but to no avail.
Beckham cited the growth of the sport in the US, and most importantly, his family’s comfort and desire to stay in Southern California as the major reasons he turned down the booming offer from PSG in December, leaving him to negotiate a new deal with the Galaxy for 2012.
"I've seen first hand how popular soccer is now in the States and I'm as committed as ever to growing the game here," said Beckham. "My family and I are incredibly happy and settled in America and we look forward to spending many more years here."
AEG president Tim Leiweke said earlier this month that he was confident Beckham would return to LA after the PSG offer had fallen by the wayside.
“Does it look more likely that is heading in that direction? Yes,” Leiweke said of Beckham’s return. “Are we done? No."
But now the deal is completed, bringing Beckham back to a team he last year helped lift to a second consecutive Supporters’ Shield, the MLS Cup and a berth in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Beckham was as instrumental in the club’s success this season as he’s been in five seasons in MLS, earning an All-Star nod and the Comeback Player of the Year Award for his return from a devastating Achilles injury that shelved him for much of 2010.
The former England captain notched a career-high 15 assists last season and added two goals in 26 games, his most appearances since joining the league. Seven of his assists during the regular season were game-winners, and he notched an assist in all four of the Galaxy’s postseason games.
He helped set up the Galaxy’s game-winning goal in the MLS Cup, flicking a header on to striker Robbie Keane, who assisted on the final touch for Landon Donovan.
“I am thrilled that David has chosen to re-join the Galaxy,” Galaxy general manager and head coach Bruce Arena said in a statement. “I felt that he was one of the best players in all of MLS last season and we could not have achieved the success that we did without him. We look forward to trying to replicate that success this season with David once again in a Galaxy uniform.”
The Galaxy will open preseason next week at The Home Depot Center.and will return to competitive action on Wednesday, March 7, when they take on Toronto FC in the first leg of their 2011-12 Champions League quarterfinal in Toronto.
They open the 2012 MLS season three days later on Saturday, March 10, when they host Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center in MLS First Kick 2012, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.