Sunday, January 21, 2007

Déjà Vu!

There's a first time for everything, and over the past 2 or 3 years, there have been many of those in the world of sports. Last year, the Detroit Tigers established themselves as a legit World Series contender. Prior to that, the NHL followed a growing trend in American sports, by instating a post-lockout salary cap.
Another league that has a salary cap, the MLS, recently took measures to avoid the salary cap. Billed as the Beckham rule, any team in the league may sign one player whose contract is exempt from the salary cap. And the league's most powerful, influential club, the Los Angeles Galaxy, were the first to take advantage of that rule, signing its namesake, former England captain David Beckham, for $250 million over 5 years. But contrary to popular belief, this isn't the first time big-name foreign stars. And no, I'm not talking about the now defunct US Soccer League, one time host of stars such as Johan Cruijff and the infamous Pele. Andreas Herzog, Champions League winner with Bayern Munich and two-time World Cup participant with his native Austria, signed with the Galaxy on a one year deal in 2004. Another two-time World Cup participant graced the Home Depot Center. Hyong Myung-Bo, captain of the 2002 South Korean World Cup side, played with the Galaxy the year previous to Herzog's signing. Even a World Cup winner has played in the MLS. Youri Djorkaeff lifted the World Cup with France when the country hosted the competition in 1998. He scored 12 goals through 45 appearances with the New York/ New Jersey Metrostars, now renamed Red Bull New York, in the 2005-2006 season. Question is, will Beckham's signing bring in an exodus of waning stars from Europe, as has happened with players such as Figo, Baptista and the De Boer twins in the Qatari and Saudi leagues? It remains to be seen.

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