Galaxy win MLS Cup in last Beckham U.S. game
Fans thank sports star with thunderous ovation as he left pitch
David Beckham ended his five-year stint in America's pro soccer league in style Saturday as his team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, won the MLS Cup.
Storming back from a deficit, the Galaxy scored three second-half goals -- two of them on penalty kicks -- to beat the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 score. It marked the second straight year Los Angeles not only won the league championship, but did so by beating Houston.
Dispelling notions about Los Angeles' soccer fans being laid back, many of the roughly 30,000 at Saturday's game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, erupted after goals from Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
They interrupted their cheers with colorful chants and songs, including one by the exuberant Riot Squad fan club toasting the home team's outgoing midfielder by singing "One David Beckham" to the tune of "Guantanamera."
More spry than he was during last year's title game when he was hampered by a hamstring injury, Beckham was very involved in play all game long and was part in several near misses, though he didn't factor into any goals.
Fans thanked him with a thunderous ovation as he left the pitch, on a substitution, late in the game.
"I'm 37 and I've been able to play in quite a few finals and championship games, and I still love it like I did when I won my first," Beckham told reporters after the game.
Asked about his stint with the Galaxy, he said he hoped people had enjoyed watching him play and that he'd brought "a bit of interest to the game."
"I just want to thank everyone over the U.S. and around the game for the support that I've had over the years," Beckham said.
Beckham had a stand-out career playing for Manchester United and Real Madrid, and captained the England national team when he joined the Galaxy -- and helped raise Major League Soccer's profile in the United States and beyond -- in 2007.
Nearly two weeks ago, team officials announced that the Englishman would no longer play for the Galaxy or any other MLS team after Saturday's contest. The move came ten months after Beckham signed a reported two-year contract with the squad, rebuffing a number of offers from leading European clubs.
The November statement gave no indication where he was headed, but in a statement released by the team, Beckham said he "wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career."
"I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future," he added.
Beckham has been a global icon of the sport for years, inspiring the 2002 movie "Bend It Like Beckham." A UNICEF ambassador, he's also been a hot item off the field as a model and as husband of former Spice Girls singer and fashionista Victoria Beckham.
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