December 1, MLS closed two chapters in its history.
The first chapter was the final performance of David Beckham for the LA Galaxy. MLS sent him off on a high note with the team’s second consecutive MLS Cup Championship, a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Caliornia.
Beckham will reveal the next club where he’ll play before Christmas. He’s also expected to buy into ownership of an MLS franchise in the near future and remain involved in the league. Beckham is not done with MLS, at all.
The second chapter closing was the premature retirement of Landon Donovan.
MLS Cup may have been the final professional game for U.S. Men’s National Team leading striker Donovan, who although just 30 and in top form, announced that he might retire from his playing career after MLS Cup and will take time off.
This was Donovan’s fifth MLS Cup and he now leads MLS players in championship titles, tied with Jeff Agoos. At MLS Cup, Donovan set yet another an MLS record with his 146th goal (regular season and playoff) with his penalty.
It was the LA Galaxy’s fourth MLS Cup (2002, 2005, 2011, 2012) and the club is now tied with D.C. United in titles and one of only three MLS teams to win back-to-back championships.
Houston dominates early, Galaxy comes back
The Galaxy were a step off early on and the Dynamo dominated the majority of the first half. Just before the break, Calen Carr broke away to score the go-ahead goal for Houston, but he was injured and subbed out for Macoumba Kandji in the 59th minute and it was all downhill from there for the Dynamo.
One minute later, defender Omar Gonzalez, who won MLS Cup MVP for his overall performance, fought back with the equalizer for LA. Donovan put the Galaxy ahead with a penalty shortly after and Robbie Keane, who was brilliant all night, took a second penalty in stoppage for the final 3-1 score.
Keane’s goal was his sixth in the 2012 playoffs and tied him for second place with Raul Diaz Arce and Roy Lassiter for most playoff goals in a season.
Beckham left the field to a standing ovation in an emotional send off. As he walked away, it was hard to imagine MLS without him going forward. It was hard not see Major League Soccer’s luster fading.
It was also hard to see Donovan struggle to smile after the victory. Donovan is an American miracle, a one-of-a-kind player, and to see him lose confidence in the beauty of the game is disheartening. But the individuality that made Donovan who he is – to chart a wildly successful course apart in American sports regardless of the prospects – that quality is still integral to who he is and he still follows his heart. Continual growth and staying in the moment has always been part of Donovan’s greatness.
Two chapters in American soccer history have closed and it has been a pleasure to be a part of them. It’s like the day after Christmas, when everything is not as shiny.
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