“I love the club,” said David Beckham in the middle of all the celebrations. The spotlight was once again on the English superstar. After all, it was the 37-year-old’s last ever Major League Soccer (MLS) match and “Becks” ended his six-year stint in the North American league on a high note by winning his second championship title with Los Angeles Galaxy. It was yet another in his unrivalled career. Beckham and the Galaxy team defeated Houston Dynamo 3-1 (0-1) in the MLS final on 1 December. In a repeat of the previous year’s final, Galaxy, who were able to play in their own stadium in Carson, California, defended the title and in doing so secured their four MLS championship win.
"I’ve done the same that I achieved at Manchester United and Real Madrid, winning the championship and we also did it in our own stadium,” said a happy Beckham, who posed for his own personal championship winning photo along with the MLS trophy, his three sons and a Union Jack draped loosely over his shoulders. He declined to take the penalty given in the Home Depot Center in the 65th minute. Many of his teammates and the Galaxy fans implored he step up and convert it to bid farewell with his 19th MLS goal. “But it wasn’t about me. I didn’t want it,” said Beckham. "I only wanted the title.”
Up stepped US international player Landon Donovan to give Galaxy a 2-1 lead. They were then awarded another spot kick in added time just after Beckham, cheered off by the fans, had left the pitch to make way for Marcelo Sarvas. Irishman Robbie Keane scored (90th +4) to wrap up the match 3-1 and destroy any last hopes the opposition from Texas had of equalising and forcing extra time.
Calen Carr had put Houston 1-0 up shortly before half-time. Playing in front of a 30,510 crowd, LA Galaxy then levelled the scores in the 60th minute through a Omar Gonzalez header. At the end of the regular season for the 19 teams from USA and Canada, Los Angeles had only managed to finish eighth in the table whilst Houston was even further back in ninth. In the semifinal, the old and new champions overcame Seattle Sounders (1-2, 3-0), in the quarterfinals their victims were San Jose Earthquakes (3-1, 0-1), who finished top of the table after the 34 match regular season, and in the first play-off – the Wild Card Match – Vancouver Whitecaps were defeated (2-1).
"We didn’t start at all well,” said Beckham, as Galaxy lost 12, won 16 and drew six in the league matches. And the 59:47 goal difference didn’t indicate that LA were in top form. It was long debateable whether the champions would even reach the play-offs. Houston were also only very average when winning 14, losing 9 and drawing 11 (48:41 goals), but then stepped up a gear in the next stage. They initially beat Chicago Fire (2-1), afterwards it was the turn of Sporting Kansas City (2-0, 0-1) who until then had been the league’s second best team after San Jose. Finally Houston dumped DC United from the capital Washington out of the competition (3-1, 1-1).
After losing to LA, the Texans bemoaned they had been disadvantaged by refereeSilviu Petrescu and his assistants. Immediately before the equaliser, the referee wrongly awarded the hosts a corner. In the lead-up to the penalty that led to LA going 2-1 up, Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark protested that hadn’t intentionally handled the ball when trying to block a bicycle kick by LA striker Mike Magee. And the Houston players didn’t agree with the decision to give LA a second penalty. However their reaction was also so fair that they didn’t blame the man in black alone for their defeat. The events in the second half came as no big surprise. Some Dynamo players said their teammates expressed the view at half-time in the dressing room that penalties would decide the match in Galaxy’s favour.
Omar Gonzalez, who scored Galaxy’s equaliser, was voted the final’s man of the match. At the beginning of the year he was training at the German club 1. FC Nuremberg but then ruptured his cruciate ligaments. Instead of playing in the Bundesliga, the 24-year-old returned to the USA and in winning the championship was also named the final’s Most Valuable Player, He had previously been voted MLS Rookie of the Year in 2009 and MLS Defender of the Year in 2011. Donovan, the former Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Everton player was a MLS championship winner for the fifth time. In the past few years the USA international went to Europe after the end of the MLS season where he played up to the start of the new North American season. It won’t be happening this time around as, “I need to take a few months off,” said the 30-year-old.
The future of his teammate Beckham, who in November announced that he didn’t intend to carry on playing until his terminated at the end of 2013, remains open after the match. As far as his career is concerned, the Englishman said he had “no idea” as to what he is going to do. Even at the age of 37 "Becks" is a much sought-after man. Offers from France, Australia, China, Russia and probably from England and Scotland are on the table.