November 19, 2012
TWO WEEKS’ NOTICE
Beckham announces that MLS Cup will be his final game with Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham is leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy, although it's not clear where he is going. The Galaxy midfielder announced that the MLS Cup on Saturday, December 1 will be his final competitive game with the club.
|MLS Cup 2012 will be a farewell match for Galaxy star David Beckham, who announced that he is leaving the team after the Dec. 1 championship at the Home Depot Center.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Rumors have recently swirled that Beckham could be going to play in Australia, and indeed his comment about leaving the Galaxy could point to that location for the conclusion of his career.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career," Beckham said. "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."
Five A-League teams reportedly have expressed interest in the English midfielder. The league itself has gotten a financial boost from a new $166 million TV deal with, among others, Fox Sports, and has already started dabbling in the deep end of the international player pool with high-profile signings like Italian veteran Alessandro Del Piero and English forward Emile Heskey.
It's also possible that Beckham could sign with another MLS club, though that is not considered likely, since he officially still has a year left on his Galaxy contract after signing a two-year extension after last season.
Signed in January 2007, Beckham has spent six seasons with the Galaxy, helping lead the club to three MLS Cup berths, including the third championship in club history in 2011 when they beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in MLS Cup 2011 at The Home Depot Center in front of a then-stadium record of more than 30,000 fans.
Altogether, Beckham appeared in 98 regular season games for the Galaxy, tallying 18 goals and adding 40 assists, good for the fourth most in club history. An MLS Best XI selection in 2011 and a three-time MLS All-Star, Beckham also helped the Galaxy qualify for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in each of the last two years and reach the Western Conference Championship in each of the past four years, advancing to MLS Cup three times. Beckham has excelled in the postseason, appearing in and starting all 16 playoff games that the Galaxy have played since 2009. In that time, he has recorded eight assists, which are the third most in club history, meaning that he has set up one third of his team’s goals in that time. He set an MLS record by becoming the first player ever to register an assist in five consecutive postseason games, including one in all four of LA’s games during their run to the 2011 MLS Cup championship.
"In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year. I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in L.A. and across the States,” Beckham said. “Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country and I want to always be part of growing it."
And the growth in popularity of MLS will likely be where Beckham is best remembered.
“When David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007, he set out to help grow MLS and the sport of soccer in North America,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived. David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the LA Galaxy and the League.”
While the credit for the growth of MLS cannot be fully given to Beckham, his arrival in the league created the type of buzz the sport had not seen in the U.S. since Pele's arrival with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s. At least during his first tour around the league, crowds and media turned out in droves. The Beckham effect wore off after a while, and it seemed so did his welcome in Los Angeles, especially after offseason loan stints to AC Milan left him missing games, both because of the overseas commitments and injuries.
The fact that the Galaxy was not a championship contender in his first few years with the club didn't help, but Beckham helped to solidify his legacy with last year's MLS Cup victory, and now a second straight trip to the championship when the Galaxy host the Houston Dynamo at the HDC in two weeks.