LA Galaxy's search for new talent 10 years after signing David Beckham

    Story highlights

    • LA Galaxy scouting players in England
    • US club signed David Beckham 10 years ago

    (CNN)It was only 10 years ago that LA Galaxy were signing arguably the most recognizable face in world football, David Beckham.

    His arrival in the US was going to build a legacy, push soccer in North America to new heights.
      A huge fanfare greeted Beckham. The US now had its very own soccer superstar. The world's media were just as sold on the story — "Goldenballs" would put the MLS on the worldwide football map.
      Fast-forward a decade and Beckham is appearing on late-night American TV chat shows and generally being a worldwide A-lister.
      Meanwhile, LA Galaxy is scouting for players in Barnet, an area of north London whose only connection to soccer is their English League Two football team.
      On the face of it, Beckham got everything he wanted out of his American dream. And The Galaxy? They're continuing to pursue creative solutions in scouting for talent.
      LA Galaxy were beaten 5-2 by Manchester United in a friendly on July 15.

      Slipping through the cracks

      The US club believes it has spotted a gap in the market in English football. A world where big money is being spent on foreign talent, but that limits opportunities for young English players.
      Sure, England's clubs still have youth academies, but the percentage of players that make it through to the first team is small. Even smaller is the number that go on to enjoy a fruitful career in England.
      The Galaxy's theory is that many players have slipped through the cracks, been unlucky or not quite made the grade for the world's most competitive league.
      Combined with a struggle to find young footballing talent prepared to skip education in the US — many young American athletes pursue their sporting dreams through university scholarships — that leaves a gap for bringing young talented players into its ranks.
      That's led The Galaxy to Barnet, a suburban area of London that's also a terminus for one of the capital's underground lines.
      Timed at the end of the English football season, Galaxy has opened its doors for those wanting a second chance, or even a first chance, to impress.
      For those that do impress, a career in America is waiting. The Galaxy realizes there are thousands of players that are looking for opportunities, and they are prepared to give them that opportunity.
      By holding trials in both London and Manchester this summer, the California-based club is making a point of wanting to make youth their focus.
      Galaxy has their second-string side, LA Galaxy II in the USL league and it's there that they see as the perfect nurturing ground for the kids.
      David Beckham and journalist and editor Anna Wintour arrive to take their seats in the Royal Box on Centre Court at Wimbledon.


      To find players between 18-years-old and their early twenties, Galaxy want to take talent in and build them up to be first-team regulars.
      Of course, there will still be room for future Beckhams and Steven Gerrards — but every MLS club can do that.
      Where can you find kids that will one day win you trophies? And where will those talented kids be? The bottom of England's football pyramid seems like a logical place to look.
      Chidi-James Williams is one example. Attending the trials in London, LA Galaxy liked what they saw and have invited him to LA for further trials.
      A talented defender, with strength and technical ability, the 21-year-old was with Premier League club Crystal Palace before being let go.
      Since then, he has struggled to find a way back into the youth system and is playing his football for Grays Athletic in the Isthmian League, the seventh tier of English football.
      Williams said: "One you're out of the system in England, it's impossible to get back in.
      "For me opportunities like this you have to take, it's a viable career choice."
      Galaxy has also held trials across the US and Japan in the past but there is a notion within the club that England is their best chance of finding real youth talent.
      They are making a point of investing in youth development, an area of a club that normally is set in stone from the beginning but not in the US where the focus initially was getting a first-team on the pitch and building a stadium.
      "For LA Galaxy, it's only been the last five years that we have invested in our youth development," says Dan Kennedy, LA Galaxy former goalkeeper and now part of the coaching set-up. "It's crazy it's only been five years.
      "We realize that in England there are players who we can take in and develop and as a club we are in need of good youth players."
      Many LA Galaxy fans felt Beckham disrespected the club with his loan spells away at AC Milan and considered his move to the US to be all about his personal gain instead of the club's.
      Alternatively maybe during his five-year spell at the Californian club he told the story of "The Class of '92" — a group of young Manchester United academy products that Beckham was part of — to Galaxy club officials and perhaps planted the seed of how youth development is the foundation for any good club.
      And if that is the case, Beckham's legacy could well live on for many years to come.