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MLS Makes Bid for Relevance

Ole, ole ole!

Real Madrid, the world-famous soccer team from Spain, is making its first U.S. tour this week, with exhibition games against American teams in Seattle and Salt Lake City.

Real Madrid's roster includes the British midfielder David Beckham, a worldwide celebrity known as much for his ability to trick goalies by "bending" the arc of a soccer ball as for his sex appeal and his marriage to Victoria Adams, better known as Posh Spice of the Spice Girls.

Unlike European soccer leagues, and -- for that matter -- leagues in just about every corner of the globe, U.S. sports fans have never embraced soccer. Major League Soccer , the North American league, has struggled to lure those fans since its founding in 1996.

David Beckham

The MLS hopes that Beckham and other stars of Real Madrid can spur interest in the league's 12 teams, which operate in 11 markets: Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles and New York (New Jersey), Salt Lake City and Washington.

I fit the profile of the ideal MLS fan. Like millions of American kids, I spent years playing soccer and then stopped altogether after high school. Yet my money has gone toward professional baseball and football tickets, even though I have always preferred soccer.

The Real Madrid tour started Wednesday, with a surprising 1-1 draw with D.C. United before a capacity crowd of 66,830 at Seattle's Qwest Field.
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