David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy won Major League Soccer’s championship in what may have been the final U.S. game for the former England captain.
The Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 last night for the MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, as Landon Donovan scored the only goal in the 72nd minute.
The title could mark the culmination of Beckham’s MLS career, as his five-year contract with the league expires next month. The 36-year-old Beckham, who became one of the world’s top soccer stars while playing for England’s Manchester United and Real Madrid in Spain, said he hasn’t decided on his future.
“It’s about time,” Beckham, who has now won league championships in three countries, said in a televised interview. “We’ve been fighting for this for a few years now. Whether I stay or not I’ve had an amazing five years.”
Beckham has helped raise the visibility of MLS since his arrival in Los Angeles in 2007, when he was the highest-profile signing by a U.S. soccer team since Pele joined the New York Cosmos in 1975 of the old North American Soccer League.
Until last night, an MLS title had eluded Beckham.
The Galaxy, who won the MLS Cup in 2002 and 2005, lost in the 2009 championship game and Beckham was limited to seven MLS games last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing with Italy’s AC Milan during the offseason. He rebounded this season and was voted the MLS’s Comeback Player of the Year after finishing second in the league in assists. He helped set up goals in each of the Galaxy’s first three playoff games.
It was another overseas signing who helped lift the Galaxy to the win last night, as Ireland national team captain Robbie Keane provided the final pass for Donovan’s goal. Donovan, the record scorer for the U.S. national team, poked his shot past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall in front of the crowd of 30,281 for his 20th career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Robbie got the ball, I made a run and he played a fantastic ball,” Donovan said after receiving the game’s Most Valuable Player award. “Everybody knows he’s known for his finishing but that pass was class.”
Donovan’s goal lifted the Galaxy to 13-0-5 this season at Home Depot Center. After the final whistle blew, Donovan and Beckham shared an on-field embrace.
“People were talking about if I didn’t win tonight it was going to be a disappointment and not a successful five years,” said Beckham. “It’s quieted a few people, which is always nice.”
Beckham has attracted interest from France’s Paris Saint-Germain and England’s Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers, as well as clubs in Brazil and the Middle East, according to U.K. newspapers including the Sun. The Galaxy want to keep him.
“David knows he has a home here, and I’d like him to stay,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke told the MLS website earlier this week. “We’d like to continue the relationship, but we’ll deal with it after Sunday.”
Beckham is the world’s highest-earning soccer player, Forbes magazine said in April, making $40 million from salary, bonuses and endorsements. Beckham captained England at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and hasn’t ruled out trying to make a British team that will play at the 2012 Olympics in London, which will take place close to where he was born.
Beckham, who is married to former Spice Girl singer Victoria Adams and lives in Los Angeles, also hasn’t ruled out a return to the Galaxy.
“I’ve loved it here,” Beckham said. “The fans have been unbelievable, the owners have been unbelievable. We’ve been incredible all season and this has capped it off.”