Incredible, wasn’t it?
The most achieving of all American footballers, Landon Donovan, looking mature and worn-out with that beard, and that ever-relentless Englishman, David Beckham, with his hair tilting over his right eye and head held high as they walk in one final display of togetherness on the pitch.
Together, the two men plotted a win towards their second MLS Cup, and then walked on to achieve a comeback victory over Houston Dynamo. Even for an old pessimist like me, watching those two together, drawn close by a future unknown and a common purpose, was a boost of optimism.
Surely, those following the sport in States and the MLS as a whole will miss this rare show of harmony between two men, who in so many ways are polar counterparts.
Both teams came into the game with a payroll difference of $12.94 million with LA Galaxy featuring the likes of Robbie Keane and Wilhelmsson. Both men of the hour seemed to be more like mere spectators, apart from a stunning combination between them and Keane early in the first half which resulted in the American missing a sitter, one which he would normally convert. Both occasionally paced towards a challenge but mostly walked around and lazily got back to support their team.
Beckham for his bit, spent more time fixing his hair for the dew he was sporting. However, the display of tenacity as he gets behind that ball before curling it was evident in the second period, from corners to free kicks. He was directly or indirectly involved with all three goals resulting from his trademark speciality.
The two players who managed to show any potential were the towering defender – Omar Gonzalez, who was strong in the air and Irishman – Robbie Keane, who wasn’t afraid to run at defenders towards the goal. The former for his performances was even awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Cup and probably received a Volvo or some sort of a discount for the German car.
Donovan did have a goal (scoring from one of the penalties) but the crowd was expecting Beckham to get on to the scoring sheet in his final game. And so an opportunity did arise in the form of a second penalty kick, after the keeper felled Robbie Keane in the box. Beckham could have ended his tenure in the MLS with a goal but the Irishman ended up converting what he earnestly deserved.
As the Englishman was replaced in extra time by manager Bruce Arena, as a show of respect, the crowd serenaded him along with a huge ovation that was heard from the heart of the packed stadium. Beckham, with his back-to-back titles, took off into the sunset.
If it was a goodbye from the two men, then they could not have done so in any better manner and the crowd couldn’t have asked for anything else.