The list of major, well known stars that have joined MLS since 2007's Designated Player Rule was created is fairly short. It started with David Beckham. It is hard to argue with his impact. His contract was large, though distributed throughout several income streams (adidas, MLS, image rights, etc). His fame at the time is unquestionable.
Others were great players, but ones that pull in eyeballs in were rare. The list of those is fairly short.
- Thierry Henry came on a free, makes good money and once was a face of Gillette razors. His history with Barcelona and Arsenal is amazing. His first team time had disappeared before he left.
- Rafa Marquez' fame at his acquisition was huge. He stumbled and bumbled his time in the league, but his fame among Mexican-Americans and fans of Barcelona was impressive. They paid attention - for a bit.
- Cuauhtémoc Blanco may be less known among traditional MLS fans, but his fame South of the border is enormous. What he did with Chicago was magical. His identity among the fanbase there is unrivaled.
Ljungberg, Angel, Frings, de Guzman and Reyna are close to that list, but they aren't quite on it. They were fading from knowledge. Most had lost their National Team status at the time.
Clint Dempsey is on that upper list. He wears the armband for the United States. He is only a year removed from being one of the best goal scorers in the EPL. Just 30 years old he enters with more time left on his figurative tires. Brazil and the world will see him at the 2014 World Cup. The most watched event in the world will have a Sounder, actually a few Sounders. He is the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eleventh and nineteenth most powerful forces in American soccer in one feel swoop.
He has his own meme.
An outdoorsmen with a love of bass fishing, he also just spent several years living in London. He can appeal to the every man, the American. Enterprising companies can take a Nacogdoches kid, his skill with a ball (or a rod) and market him.
He might not be the face of American soccer right now, but he's about to be. All indications are that the face will sit above a Rave Green top with Sounder Blue shorts.
Adrian Hanauer and Co didn't change the goals for Seattle's 2013. They looked at the bar and hurdled it, setting a new standard. Some famous people drop mics. In the Starfire/VMAC/CenturyLink offices they drop Deuces.