Beckham's Galaxy go for second-straight title
LOS ANGELES (AFP) –
Former England captain David Beckham hopes to close out his Major League Soccer career with a bang — a win in the final against Houston will give him two-straight championship titles.
Beckham’s six-year playing career with Los Angeles will end with his final game in a Galaxy uniform against the Dynamo on Saturday after he announced last week he was looking forward to “one more challenge” outside of the MLS.
He is expected to make a decision on where he will end up playing next by the end of the year, saying he has several offers on the table.
“On the field, to have played in three finals and to have been able to lift the championship last year in our own stadium, I felt that I had achieved everything I wanted to do,” he said.
“Now that we have reached the MLS Cup final, that it is going to be in our stadium again in front of our own fans, it just felt it was the right time.”
Beckham told British broadcaster Sky Sports that playing in the Premier League isn’t one of the options.
“I can’t see myself playing for any other Premier League club” than former team Manchester United, he said this week.
He has been linked to possible moves to Australia’s A-League or Paris Saint-Germain.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Beckham will have left his mark on the league since he began playing for the Galaxy in 2007.
The league has expanded from 12 to 19 teams and it has more than doubled its overall attendance.
“He was an unbelievable ambassador for the league, for the Galaxy,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Beckham scored a seven goals this season and had 15 assists last year with the Galaxy. Both were personal MLS season best marks for Beckham.
Some thought it was a long time coming as Beckham got off to a slow start in his first few seasons with Los Angeles, sparring with fans and dividing his playing time between teams in Europe and North America.
“When I first came here people expected me to score 10 goals and that was never going to happen,” Beckham said. “Wherever I played there has always been expectations. Whether I reach them, that is for other people to decide just what my impact was.”
When he inked his ground-breaking five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, it included a unique agreement that when he was done playing he would have the right to exercise an option to become an owner.
That raises the possibility that Beckham could one day end up owning a team in Los Angeles, currently home of the flourishing Galaxy as well as Chivas USA.
Beckham’s teammate Landon Donovan also could be playing his last game with the Galaxy on Saturday.
“We haven’t always gotten along, especially in the beginning. But he’s a good person and I think we’re all happy for him,” Donovan said of Beckham.
Donovan hinted recently that he may retire after this season which would end a superb North American career that saw him score more goals than any player in US national team history.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena says playing their final game at The Home Depot Center instead of on the road is a blessing.
“We could play this in Anchorage if they asked us to,” said Arena, who has coached the Galaxy since 2008. “But playing at home should be an advantage in an MLS Cup.
“We hope it helps us a little bit, because we’re going to need all the help we can get. I’d rather be playing in L.A. than Houston.”
The Galaxy have come a long way in 2012. Three months into the season they were in last place in the Western Conference. But they went 12-3-2 in their next 17 games to clinch a playoff spot with five weeks remaining in the season.
They advanced to the final by overcoming deficits in each of their first two playoff series.
A lot of the credit goes to Arena.
“He’s a leader,” says Dave Sarachan, the Galaxy’s associate head coach. “A decent balance of when to step on guys and when to back off. He knows how to manage.
“When you add up all these components, you get Bruce.”
This marks just the second time in MLS history the same two teams will meet in consecutive finals.
Donovan scored the only goal of the match last year to give the Galaxy the 1-0 win over the Dynamo who are playing in the MLS Cup for the fourth time in their seven-year history.
Midfielder Brad Davis said the Dynamo has improved from last year, especially at midfield.
“I definitely think we’re a bit more dynamic,” Davis said. “The additions of Ricardo [Clark] and Boniek [Garcia] to our midfield has brought nothing but confidence to our team right now.
“It’s been a lot of fun to play, and hopefully we can keep it going in the last game.”