David Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy beat Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Sunday to win Major League Soccer’s MLS Cup, giving the English superstar the Hollywood ending he sought to his ground-breaking Galaxy deal.
Landon Donovan’s 72nd-minute goal, from a pass by Irish international Robbie Keane, was enough to secure the victory for the Galaxy.
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Beckham, who won six English Premiership titles with Manchester United and a Spanish League title with Real Madrid, captured his first MLS championship in the final match of his five-year deal.
The triumph put the finishing touches to a season in which the Galaxy produced the best regular-season record in the league and were unbeaten at home.
The lone goal of the match came after Beckham headed the ball to Keane, who ran into the area and fed Donovan, who fired home.
When the final whistle blew, Beckham wrapped his arms around Donovan and lifted him off his feet in celebration.
Donovan paid tribute to his “warrior-like” teammate, saying Beckham injured a hamstring earlier in the week and was “playing on one leg.”
“During the match I had a little bit of discomfort,” admitted Beckham, who clearly lacked quickness around the pitch but still displayed his deft touch with corners and free kicks.
“He gutted it out tonight,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
“My hat is off to David.”
Beckham himself was just happy to help deliver a title for the Galaxy, who brought him Stateside to great fanfare in 2007 in a move that raised the profile of MLS with US sports fans and opened the door for other marquee international players to follow.
“It’s about time,” said Beckham, who could yet have a sequel with the Galaxy if the team can persuade him to return after his contract expires at the end of December.
Beckham, who is also being wooed by French club Paris Saint-Germain, preferred to celebrate rather than speculate on his future.
“At the moment, I’m going to enjoy tonight,” Beckham said.
“There’s a lot of options but I’m a Galaxy player. I’ve been a Galaxy player for the last five years and I’ve been proud of that,” added Beckham, who was serenaded by chants of “We want Beckham” after the final whistle blew.
A record crowd of 30,281 turned out at the Home Depot Centre, undaunted by the chilly rain that pelted Los Angeles all day.
The fact that the stadium had been selected in advance to hold the championship match was a bit of serendipity for the Galaxy, making it a virtual home fixture for them.
|Man of the match Landon Donovan and Beckham celebrate at the whistle [GALLO/GETTY]
“The atmosphere was fantastic tonight,” Donovan said. “The stadium was electric.”
Man of the match Donovan said it won’t be his goal that he remembers from the night.
“The actual goal doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” he said.
“I for the last month have been so determined to win – I didn’t care who scored, I didn’t care if it was an own-goal, I just wanted to win. Winning feels so good. The moment when the whistle blew is what I’ll remember.”
In addition to the daunting task of taking on the Galaxy in Los Angeles, Houston’s hopes had suffered a blow when they lost leading scorer Brad Davis to a torn quadriceps in the Eastern Conference championship match.
Los Angeles dominated play in a scoreless first half but couldn’t capitalise.
Beckham delivered a corner directly to forward Adam Cristman’s head in the 12th minute but Cristman – replacing injured Chad Barrett in the starting line-up – missed.
In the 27th, he was unable to finish another header after Beckham lofted a pass over a clutch of defenders to him, and shortly thereafter he misplayed a ball from Donovan in front of the goal after slipping on the wet pitch.
Keane, who this month helped Ireland book their Euro 2012 berth, appeared to score in the 56th but the goal was ruled offside.