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Focus of U.S. success story isn't solely on Beckham

David Beckham's first MLS Cup final and a crowd of 40,000 expected at Seattle's Qwest Field Sunday night give the media a chance to take stock in the impact of the English star during his two-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy. As Jamie Jackson of the London Observer finds, "Perhaps the most intriguing indicator of the progress of stateside soccer is how the focus is not now solely on Beckham."

Jackson talks with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Galati (sic), who notes how the size of the United States gives its many advantages and soccer has become entrenched in the American culture. "Outside of South Africa, No. 1 ticket buyer in the world for the World Cup? United States. Bigger than England and Germany combined. No. 1 rights payment for the World Cup? United States. More registered players than anywhere in the world? United States. We don't get ratings or rights payments for our league or national team that Man. United or the Premier League get. But it will take some time and I think it will make some progress."

Gulati says American soccer has entered the second half of a 50-year project that began in 1984 when soccer was the surprise hit at the 1984 Summer Olympics. "What's possible in the next 25 years, how we could grow the game and how big it could become and be good for the game internationally, is almost unimaginable," he says.

Read the whole story at The Observer »

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