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Beckham bows out of Los Angeles with Hollywood ending: Superstar finishes his last game for Galaxy with title win



By James Nye


In true Hollywood style David Beckham ended his five-year stay in American football with a triumphant victory as his LA Galaxy lifted the MLS Cup on Saturday night.

Having announced that the final would be his last act as a Galaxy player, the former England captain was substituted late on in the match as the Los Angeles team retained the trophy won in dramatic fashion last year.

Emerging from half-time 1-0 down to Houston Dynamo, a quick fire burst of two goals in five minutes from Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan and a penalty from Robbie Keane deep into injury-time ensured that the MLS Cup had a fairytale ending for the league's most iconic player.

‘It is a special day for us to win it here at our home, in front of our home fans,’ said an emotional Beckham, who again hinted that he would soon be involved in the MLS as a club owner.

‘It is a sad day as well. This is a special place for me and will continue to be a special place.

‘I have no idea where I will go next. I do know that I am happy to have been part of this club for six years and been successful for the last four years.

‘I will continue with my commitment to this league. I might not be playing here any more but my commitment to growing this sport and this league will continue.’

Unlike last year when he was nursing a hamstring injury, Beckham, 37, displayed his full range of skills, launching huge 40-yard passes up the field in an attempt to conjure victory in his last game.

In addition to pinging passes, Beckham was almost able to conjure a goal from one of his trademark free-kicks, but the attempt was deflected and team mate Robbie Keane pounced on it but the goal was declared offside.

Replaced one minute before the end of the match to a standing ovation, Beckham hugged most of his team mates as he left the field at the Home Depot Center, where the LA Galaxy play their home MLS games.

The home crowd unfurled banners declaring their love for Beckham and with the game in injury time with the score finely poised at 2-1, Robbie Keane was brought down in the Houston box and a penalty was awarded to the Galaxy.

Surprisingly, with the stage set for a dramatic send off for the former England captain, Beckham did not take the penalty, which Keane converted all but sealing the cup and sending the crowd into rapture.

It was Landon Donovan, put the Galaxy ahead with a penalty kick in the 65th minute ensuring and David Beckham left MLS as a double champion.

Omar Gonzalez tied it in the 61st minute with a long header for the Los Angeles team, who defended their title in a rematch of last season’s championship game.

With a stirring second-half surge inspired by Beckham and capped by Robbie Keane’s goal with another penalty kick in injury time, Los Angeles won its fourth MLS Cup, tying D.C. United for the MLS record.

The Galaxy also gave an appropriate farewell to Beckham, who has been credited with transforming the league and his team over six seasons in Los Angeles.

Beckham will play elsewhere in the new year, but he hasn’t disclosed his immediate plans.

After Calen Carr put Houston ahead in the 44th minute, Beckham and his high-scoring teammates systematically broke down the defense of the Dynamo, who lost the MLS Cup 1-0 to Los Angeles on the same field last year.

Donovan even redeemed himself for missing an open net in the 13th minute by burying his penalty kick after a Houston handball in the box.

The U.S. national team star, who is also contemplating retiring altogether from soccer, won his record-tying fifth MLS title while scoring his fifth career MLS Cup goal and the record 22nd goal of this season.

After Keane’s goal clinched it, Beckham left the game to a raucous standing ovation from the packed stadium amid chants of “Thank you, David!” Beckham hugged Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who won his fourth MLS title, and just about everybody on the Galaxy bench before the game ended moments later.

Beckham streamed onto the field with his teammates and waved thanks at the fans before he was joined by his three sons, all clad in No. 23 Galaxy jerseys.

The pregame rain cleared long enough for MLS’ sunny farewell to Beckham, who arrived in Los Angeles in 2007 from Real Madrid with designs on changing the American perception of the world’s most popular game.

The league has grown steadily during his tenure, with most MLS franchises on sound financial footing and in excellent stadiums, although the sport’s popularity and TV ratings haven’t matched the other American pastimes.

Beckham was wildly cheered by many of the same diehard Galaxy supporters who booed him three years ago after his loans to AC Milan and an injury-riddled start to his Galaxy career.

The Home Depot Center souvenir stands were loaded with Beckham shirts, including one that said 'Take Me With You!'

Beckham has been in outstanding form for the past two years, patrolling the Galaxy’s midfield and launching his usual sharp setup passes.

He played aggressively for Los Angeles until the end, diving into the box and nearly converting a long pass for a goal in the 85th minute.

After winning the title last year on a Beckham-to-Keane-to-Donovan beauty of a goal, Los Angeles nearly had another storybook goal in the 13th minute when Beckham launched a long, high pass to a sprinting Keane, who slipped behind the defense and centered it perfectly for Donovan.

But he inexplicably pushed his shot inches wide of the post, leaving him with both hands on his head while the stadium released the usual post-goal confetti anyway.

The Dynamo improved their pressure late in the first half, and Adam Moffat’s long pass eventually set up Carr’s impressive near-post goal past Josh Saunders.

Carr leaped the corner flag in celebration of a rare score for the forward, a Bay Area native who joined the Dynamo last season and managed just four goals this year.

With Keane and Beckham leading the second-half charge, the Galaxy finally broke through when Gonzalez stuck around the box after a failed setpiece and managed to bounce a looping header past Hall.

Gonzalez was MLS’ top defender last year, and his late return from injury this season sparked the Galaxy’s late-season surge.

Ricardo Clark was then called for a handball in the box in the 65th minute after an extended defensive scramble by the Dynamo. Donovan squatted down to prepare for his penalty kick before burying it in a back corner.

Houston frantically pressed for an equalizer in the final minutes, but Saunders and his defense repeatedly denied the Dynamo. After Hall wrapped his hand around Keane’s thigh to stop a chance in the box, Keane confidently buried his sixth goal of a spectacular six-game postseason run in the Irish national team captain’s first full MLS season.

"I'm sad it is the end; this has been an amazing place for me and continues to be an amazing place," said Beckham, the former England captain.

The midfielder has won league titles in his final season with all three of the clubs he has played with on a permanent basis - Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Galaxy.


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By: manager Date Added: 2012-12-02 Comment: 0 Views :1773

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