It was into the 90th minute when a long ball over the top of the Dynamo defense was chased down by Robbie Keane. The Irishman, whose five goals in the playoffs were instrumental in taking the Galaxy to the final, tried to evade Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, but was brought down in the penalty area, giving the referee no choice but to award LA a penalty kick.
With Galaxy leading 2-1 and little time remaining this was to be perfect exit for David Beckham, except it was Robbie Keane and not Beckham who took the penalty, hitting it low and true into the corner of the net to ensure that Galaxy would win the MLS Cup for a second consecutive season.
With victory certain, coach Arena withdrew Beckham, allowing the 37 year old Englishman, the opportunity to milk the applause from the delighted Galaxy crowd on his farewell appearance for the club.
After the disappointment of last year’s final, Houston were far more competitive, dominating for long periods during the first half and forcing LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders into a string of saves.
But the outcome of the game revolved around two players, Calen Carr of Dynamo and Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez.
Carr not only caused Galaxy all sorts of problems during the first half, with his surging runs; but also provided an outlet for relieving pressure on his own defense when Galaxy had been on the attack.
Carr’s run and finish close to half time gave Houston the lead and a real feeling that perhaps this might be their year. But the dynamics of the game changed just before the hour, when an innocuous looking challenge from the league’s best defender, Omar Gonzalez forced Carr out of the game.
With Dynamo’s main attacking threat now off the field, Gonzalez took center stage. Within two minutes of Carr’s departure, Galaxy won a corner, the ball was partially cleared and from the resulting cross the 6 foot 5 defender outjumped the Houston defense to tie the game at 1-1.
With Houston now being forced to defend deep and no outlet to relieve the pressure, Robbie Keane had the ball in the net, only for the goal to be disallowed for a foul on the defender by Gonzalez.
But the relief for Dynamo was short lived and on 65 minutes Ricardo Clark handled in the penalty area with the resulting penalty being converted by Landon Donovan.
Having gained the initiative LA never looked in any real danger and Keane’s 90th minute coup de grace ensured a second consecutive title for the team from the western conference.
For Omar Gonzalez, the league’s best defender and the MVP, it is decision time. Will he pledge his international future to USA or to Mexico and after his commanding performances a transfer to one of the major European leagues looks very likely?
The future for Landon Donovan’s appears less clear, with the 30 year old undecided as to whether he still wishes to carry on playing soccer. Donovan plans to take a sabbatical after which time he will decide on his next step. But what next for David Beckham?
Off the field he is keen to return to the MLS as an owner and has received offers from two new franchises in New York and Miami, both of whom hope to be MLS members by 2016; but for now the 37 year old Beckham is still keen to carry on playing, even though he is a waning force on the field.
Among the possible destinations:
English Premier League
Wife Victoria is reported to have been house hunting in London and two London clubs, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham have been linked to Beckham. After he left Manchester United Beckham said that he would never play for any English club and it is appears unlikely that he will be all that keen to be involved in a desperate relegation struggle with Queens Park Rangers and just as important, does he really have the stamina and pace to perform at the level required in the Premier League?
Ligue 1 France
Beckham has been linked to Paris Saint Germain and Second Division AS Monaco. He declined an offer to join Paris Saint Germain after last season’s MLS Cup Final and with the position of coach Carlo Ancelotti’s looking increasingly fragile; a move to Paris seems less likely, despite some reports that he has already agreed to move to the French capital. Monaco on the other hand might be a more attractive option, especially if the team gains promotion back to Ligue 1.
China and Australia
The arrival of Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka to the burgeoning Chinese Super League has given a boost to the profile of Chinese football. But the Chinese league lacks real quality and a move to the Far East, where the Beckham profile is already very high doesn’t seem likely.
Another challenger for Beckham could be in Australia’s A League, especially following the high profile signings of Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey. Both Perth Glory and Melbourne Heart have inquired about Beckham and there are reports suggesting a 10 game cameo for an A-League club might be an appealing option for Beckham.
With the Christmas holidays drawing near and the European transfer window soon to open, a decision from Beckham can be expected in the next two to three weeks.
Amit Janeja lives in the Uk but is a huge fan of all US sports. He blogs about his favorite teams as well as his gambling exploits at intertops.