CARSON, Calif .– Landon Donovan scored the deciding goal from a 65th-minute penalty, and David Beckham left MLS as a two-time champion with the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup on Saturday.
Omar Gonzalez tied in the 61st minute with a long header for Galaxy, who defended their title in a rematch of last season’s league game.
With a heartwarming second-half push topped by Robbie Keane’s goal from another penalty in added time, Los Angeles won their fourth MLS Cup, tying DC United for the MLS record.
The Galaxy also bid farewell to Beckham, the 37-year-old English midfielder who turned the league and his team into six seasons in Los Angeles. Beckham will play elsewhere in the New Year before eventually returning to MLS as a team owner, but he did not disclose his immediate plans.
After Calen Carr gave Houston the lead in the 44th minute, Beckham and his high-scoring teammates systematically shattered the Dynamo’s defense, which lost the MLS Cup 1-0 to Los Angeles on the same pitch last year. latest.
Keane played another stellar attacking game for Los Angeles before winning his own penalty when Houston’s Tally Hall knocked him down in the box, while Gonzalez equalized on careful play from MLS top defenseman last season.
Donovan even redeemed himself for missing an open net in the 13th minute by burying his penalty after a Houston handball in the box. The U.S. national team star, who is also considering leaving football, won his record-breaking fifth MLS title while scoring his fifth career MLS Cup goal and the 22nd record-breaking goal of his playoff career.
After Keane’s goal landed it, Beckham left the game to a loud standing ovation from the crowded stadium amid chants of “Thank you, David!” Beckham hugged Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who won his fourth MLS title, and just about everyone on the Galaxy bench before the game was over moments later.
Beckham took to the pitch with his teammates and thanked the fans before being joined by his three sons, all dressed in No.23 Galaxy jerseys.
The pre-game rain subsided long enough for MLS to bid a sunny farewell to Beckham, who arrived in Los Angeles in 2007 from Real Madrid with plans to change America’s perception of the most popular game. in the world. The league grew steadily during his tenure, with most MLS franchises on a solid financial footing and in excellent venues, although the sport’s popularity and television ratings did not not equaled other American hobbies.
Beckham has been wildly cheered by many of the same die-hard Galaxy fans who booed him three years ago after his AC Milan loan and an injury-riddled start to his career. The Home Depot Center souvenir stalls were filled with Beckham shirts, including one that read “Take me with you!” “
Beckham has been in exceptional form for the past two years, patrolling the Galaxy midfield and throwing his usual crisp setup passes. He played aggressively for Los Angeles until the end, diving into the box and almost converting a long pass for a goal in the 85th minute.
These two franchises have combined to win eight of the last 12 MLS titles, dating back to the days of the Dynamo in San Jose. Houston appears stuck as a supporting player in Galaxy history, although the departures of Beckham and possibly Donovan will spark some big offseason changes in Los Angeles.
After winning the title last year on a beauty of a goal from Beckham to Keane in Donovan, Los Angeles nearly scored another goal in the 13th minute when Beckham threw a long high pass to a sprinting Keane, who slipped behind the defense and centered it perfectly for Donovan.
But he inexplicably pushed his shot a few inches from the post, leaving it with both hands on his head as the stadium released the usual post-goal confetti anyway.
The Dynamo improved their pressure at the end of the first half, and Adam Moffat’s long pass finally saw Carr score at the near post ahead of Josh Saunders.
Carr crossed the corner flag to celebrate a rare score for the forward, a Bay Area native who joined Dynamo last season and has only managed four goals this year.
With Keane and Beckham leading the charge in the second half, the Galaxy finally broke through when Gonzalez stayed around the box after a failed free kick and managed to bounce a looped header past Hall. Gonzalez was MLS’s top defenseman last year, and his late return from injury this season sparked the Galaxy soaring late in the season.
Ricardo Clark was then called up for a handball in the box in the 65th minute after a long defensive scramble from Dynamo. Donovan crouched down to prepare for his penalty before burying it in a back corner.
Houston frantically pushed for an equalizer in the dying minutes, but Saunders and his defense have repeatedly denied the Dynamo. After Hall wrapped his hand around Keane’s thigh to stop a chance in the box, Keane confidently buried his sixth goal in a spectacular six-game playoff streak in the captain’s first full season. Irish national team in MLS.
Video Highlights: 2012 MLS Cup