In his 2008 MLS preview, Houston Chronicle columnist Glenn Davis says the criticism David Beckham received for his on-field performances last year were unfair. Not that those performances were spectacular, but Davis implies that the media ought to overlook that aspect considering the visibility Becks brings to the league. Not only does his "spotlight shine brightly in every MLS city," but "players from around the world have inquired about playing here because of Beckham's choice to come to America." Coaches, too: would Ruud Gullit have taken the head coaching position at the L.A. Galaxy without Beckham? No, says Davis.
Becks has certainly played his part in attracting attention to the league, but Davis says the onus now falls on the sports media to help round the expanded coverage of the league out. What's needed now, for example, is more local radio and magazine style shows: "If it is not covered comprehensively, it will not be considered truly professional," he says.
Meanwhile, MLS needs to focus on bringing in higher quality talent from overseas to make the overall product more attractive. It also needs to hone in on establishing more relationships between clubs, fans and community leaders -- a touch that Davis says goes a long way. Front offices need to work more closely with devoted fan groups, which have considerable clout, and MLS coaches need to place more emphasis on international results, particularly in the SuperLiga and Concacaf Champions' Cups, which would help the league's street cred both at home and abroad.