Brazilian soccer legend Pele says David Beckham's pending arrival in America is not unlike his own some 22 years ago with the New York Cosmos of the NASL. "I remember when we played at San Jose, we lost 2 to 1," Pele recalled. "I said, 'My God, what am I going to do here?'" But the World Cup legend stuck it out, and following the arrival of stars like Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer, soccer took off in New York and around the country.
As we know, investment in the game's greatest players didn't bring the kind of returns the NASL needed to stay afloat and after its 1984 season it folded. Skeptics say MLS might be headed in a similar direction, but with 11 years and a far more cautious financial structure under its belt, this league is in a very different position than the NASL. "The thing with Beckham, they've got everything set up already," Pele said during a promotional event for the satellite soccer channel Gol TV. "The league is OK," he added.
Nevertheless, millions of eyes will be watching the impact that Becks has on MLS -- from die-hard American football fans to the foreign press. Enzo Francescoli, a former Uruguay international and the CEO of Gol TV said more stars would surely follow Beckham, although he doesn't think Zinedine Zidane will be one of them, despite the persistent rumors. "I know Zinedine. For me, he doesn't want to play anymore," Francescoli said.