Major League Soccer threw a farewell party for David Beckham in Los Angeles this weekend. And for Beckham, it was a classic Hollywood ending.
Saturday's MLS Championship Cup was a rematch of last year's final between Beckham's L.A. Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. But Beckham recently announced his retirement from the Galaxy after six seasons and the match became less a sporting event than a sold-out going away party for the megastar. Beckham's presence in the MLS legitimized the league and helped turn the U.S. into a true soccer-loving country.
LA Galaxy star David Beckham via Zumapress.com
Vendors selling Beckham memorabilia, including T-shirts saying farewell to the 37 year-old midfielder playing his final competitive game for the Galaxy, seemed to be doing a brisk business. After the match, the crowd chanted "Thank you, Beckham" and held up signs of appreciation. Throughout his career, the British player been a great ambassador for soccer and his country. Since joining LA Galaxy, there have been seven more MLS teams, 10 more stadiums, three million more in attendance and 19 youth academies.
The LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo met in last year’s MLS Cup final on the same field, with the Galaxy winning 1-0. At the beginning of this season, however, it didn't look like the Galaxy would even have a chance to defend their title. They had a rocky start but their late-season rally to another championship game carried a certain sense of destiny for the franchise.
There are big changes looming in the off-season for the Galaxy. In addition to Beckham's departure there are rumours that Landon Donovan, who's thinking about walking away from the MLS in an apparent mid-career case of burnout, may join his teammate.
Beckham may have been the star attraction for his last game, but the Galaxy has another fan favorite in Robbie Keane, the Irish national team captain who scored 16 regular-season goals and five more in the playoffs during an outstanding first full season with the Galaxy. While Beckham and Donovan contemplate their futures, Keane confirmed he isn't going anywhere after playing for his second MLS Cup in his short stateside tenure. In fact it was Keane who scored the final goal (a penalty kick) for the Galaxy Saturday to clinch the MLS Cup.
Final Score: LA Galaxy 3 to Houston Dynamo 1 with Los Angeles repeating as MLS Cup Champions. A fitting way for Beckham to end his run with the club.
A Galaxy win, however, wasn't a sure thing. The Los Angeles team was down nil to 1 at the half and Houston was playing well. But the better team ultimately prevailed and Galaxy fans, not discouraged by the light rain, came out in droves to say good-bye to their star.
I didn't venture down to the Home Depot Center to see the game, but I did spend the better part of the day researching photos of Beckham for this post - a task that was not altogether tedious. I caught most of the game on television while chatting with fellow soccer fans via Twitter and I think Mia Hamm's tweet sums things up nicely.
Thank you David Beckham for loving the beautiful game and especially for showing that love here in the US. Best wishes.
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