The Major League Soccer Championship has been won by last season’s champions LA Galaxy, beating Houston Dynamo 3-1 at the Home Depot Center; equaling D.C. United‘s record of 4 MLS Cup wins.
In a repeat of last season fixture, Houston took the lead in the first half through a powerfully hit shot from Calen Carr. But the Galaxy came out in the 2nd half with a vengeance and an Omar Gonzalez header leveled from a Juninho cross. The game soon turned around, as Galaxy captain, Landon Donovan calmly slotted away a penalty after a hand ball.
LA Galaxy secured the trophy in added time, as arguably the player of the MLS season, Robbie Keane scored another penalty after being brought down by the Houston keeper, Tally Hall.
The game marked the end of former England captain, David Beckham‘s 6 year MLS era, as he sets his sights “one last challenge”
Beckham, 37, said - “This is a very special place for me and it will continue to be. I am happy to have been part of this club for six years and I am grateful to have been successful for the last four years”, he added that he was “happy to wear this uniform today”. Beckham was substituted in the second half and received a standing ovation and chants of “thank you Beckham” from his adoring home fans. Beckham storngly stated he had “no idea” where his next club will be.
Beckham’s professionalism was shown late on, when after his side won a 2nd penalty he didn’t show an interest in taking the spot-kick. However, the 3-1 win marks a Hollywood ending to his time in the USA, and his 2nd MLS Cup win will go down as one of his career highs.
The game reflected the MLS season in many ways, with Irish man, Robbie Keane, probably the MLS’ player of the season troubling the Houston defense through out; Keane also had a goal ruled out for offside.
The LA Galaxy continued to show their defensive qualities, with goal scorer Omar Gonzalez winning the MVP award (man of the match).
Credit will and must be given to LA Galaxy keeper, Josh Saunders. The 31 year old American pulled off some important saves during tense times throughout.
Galaxy’s win marks their boss, Bruce Arena’s 4th MLS Cup win in his managerial career, and shows the turn of the clubs fortunes since his arrival in 2008. Arena, 61, has been highly praised by David Beckham this week, claiming Arena came in and “steadied the ship” for the Los Angeles side.
The match is not only the last for David Beckham, but could also be the last for USA skipper, Landon Donovan, who at 30 is considering an early retirement or departure from the MLS, and if so, it would be a fitting ending for him as he lifted the trophy at his home ground.
However, the headlines will be full of Beckham’s name as the script of his successful career continued, an emotional Beckham was seen with his kids and with a British Union Flag wrapped around him. Beckham’s time in the USA will be judged on his legacy rather than the silverware he has acquired. Apart from the shirt sales, Beckham has turned Europe’s attention to the MLS and has helped attract other big name stars, such as Thierry Henry and Alessandro Nesta. But perhaps more importantly Beckham has begun to help create interest and raise the attention of soccer for American sports fans. Where will Beckham go next? Who knows, but I think one and all can thank him for the work he has done for not only the MLS, but Soccer in the USA.
“I may not be playing here anymore, but I will always have full commitment on building the club, the league and the game”
Stowe Gregory – @stowegregory