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There’s not much more to be said about the arrival of America’s soccer savior, David Beckham, over the weekend. But while the golden boy of soccer was captivating the public and putting soccer on the nation’s radar, Major League Soccer was also putting itself on display to the rest of the world. Beckham’s debut may have been underwhelming, mostly because of an injured ankle that limited him to 13 minutes on the pitch, but MLS teams came out looking rather well against some international competition.

First it was the MLS All-Stars defeating Scottish Premier League champions Celtic FC 2-0, followed by Real Salt Lake handing Everton, who finished sixth in the English Premier League last season, a 2-0 defeat on Sunday.

Also on Sunday the Chicago Fire tied Celtic 1-1 in another friendly thanks to a goal from newly arrived Mexican star Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Sandwiched in between was Beckham’s debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy and a 1-0 loss to EPL runner-ups Chelsea FC.

MLS teams Toronto FC and Columbus will take on Aston Villa this week, which finished 11th in the EPL last season.

Add in the fact that four MLS teams will also be participating in the inaugural SuperLiga beginning July 24, in which club teams from Mexico and the U.S. vie for regional supremacy.

While it’s difficult to glean much from friendlies against foreign teams that are just beginning their preseason, are nowhere near top form, or the SuperLiga for that matter, which seems like a contrived publicity tournament, it is nice to see some MLS teams facing some stiff competition.

With Beckham providing a face for the league not only a national level, but internationally as well, it’s time for MLS to prove that it is not a league made up of Sunday pub teams, which some British papers claimed the Galaxy was before it played Chelsea. Playing with and against teams from leagues recognized as stronger than MLS and also playing the best club teams in its region will only help MLS continue to legitimize itself to the average fan.

Soccer diehards in the U.S. understand where MLS is at compared to the rest of the world and what it is trying to do; getting everyone else to understand is a different story. Beckham may have brought the face and attention, but it’s up to MLS as a whole to prove all the fuss is really worth it.


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