Klinsmann sees Beckham as boost for US game

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, California, Sept 23 (Reuters) David Beckham's arrival has electrified the United States and given soccer a huge boost even if it is unclear whether his impact will be lasting, former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann said.

The California resident, who was linked with the United States job a year ago, said Beckham's move from Real Madrid to the Los Angeles Galaxy had at least temporarily turned the sport into a major attraction.

''He put soccer in the spotlight in the United States,'' Klinsmann said in an interview with Reuters in his adopted home town.

''Suddenly, people who before had no interest about soccer are following it. His arrival has made a huge media impact.'' The former Germany striker said it was unfortunate that even before Beckham was sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury, he had been hampered by ankle problems from his last season in Spain.

Consequently, Klinsmann said it was still not entirely clear what Beckham's impact as a player would be for the Galaxy, who won the MLS title in 2002 and 2005 but are in last place in their division this season with just four wins from 23 matches.

Klinsmann, who was once reported to be taking over as Galaxy coach, declined to comment on those rumours or others linking him with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

However, he said he was eager to return to coaching and looking for the right job but that there was no point speculating on which clubs were in the frame.

BIG BANG Soccer may be the world's most popular sport but it is well behind American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey in the US.

''It was a 'big bang' that everyone was hoping for and they got it,'' Klinsmann said of Beckham's celebrated arrival in July.

''It caused a stir with the kids and with youths even though the people weren't really sure about the level of play in his club or in the league.

''The MLS is working hard on improving because they know they've got some way to go.'' In Beckham's first US match on July 21, broadcaster ESPN had 19 cameras in place -- even one trained on the player the entire time he sat on the bench.

On August 29, Beckham suffered a knee injury that is expected to keep him out of action for six weeks.

REUTERS TB KN1508

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