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Every player should end it like Beckham

Galaxy star exits MLS in style

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CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham stood on the podium with his three sons, an oversized Union Jack knotted around his Los Angeles Galaxy jersey. With a practiced lift and a broad smile, he raised the sparkling silver cup over his head to a raucous ovation amid a confetti blizzard.

Now that's a Hollywood ending worthy of a star.

Beckham wrapped up his MLS career as a two-time champion Saturday, with Landon Donovan's tiebreaking goal in the 65th minute propelling the Galaxy to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup.

Omar Gonzalez tied it in the 61st minute with a long header for the Galaxy, who defended their title in a rematch of last season's championship game. For the second straight year, Beckham raised a trophy that stands as evidence of the 37-year-old English midfielder's indelible impact on American soccer during his six seasons in Los Angeles.

"It's been a successful six years here, and now that we've won the second one, it's even more satisfying," Beckham said. "I just hope people have enjoyed me playing here. It's what I always hope for when I step on the field."

With a stirring second-half surge capped by Robbie Keane's goal on another penalty kick in injury time, Los Angeles won its fourth MLS Cup, tying D.C. United for the league record.

The Galaxy also gave an appropriate farewell to Beckham, who will play elsewhere in the new year before eventually returning to MLS as a team owner. With rumours linking him everywhere from Sydney to Paris, he hasn't disclosed his immediate plans beyond a Christmas vacation back home in England.

Los Angeles will miss Beckham, but the glamorous global icon is going out at an apex for MLS' highest-profile franchise.

"I just hope I've brought a bit of interest to the game in American," Beckham said. "If that's the single thing I've done, then great."

After Calen Carr put Houston ahead in the 44th minute, Beckham and his high-scoring teammates systematically broke down the defence of the Dynamo, who lost the MLS Cup 1-0 to Los Angeles on the same field last year.

Keane played another stellar attacking game for Los Angeles before earning his own penalty kick when Houston's Tally Hall knocked him down in the box, while Gonzalez got the equalizer on a cagey play by MLS' top defender last season.

Moments later, Donovan redeemed himself for missing an open net in the 13th minute by burying his penalty kick after a Houston handball in the box. The U.S. national team star, who is also contemplating a departure from soccer, won his record-tying fifth MLS title while scoring his fifth career MLS Cup goal and the record 22nd goal of his post-season career.

"It's a little surreal," Donovan said. "In any sport, to repeat is really hard to do. ... For me personally, this felt more satisfying (than last year). We could enjoy it a little bit more."

After Keane's goal clinched it, Beckham left the game to a raucous standing ovation from the packed stadium amid chants of "Thank you, David!"

Beckham hugged Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who won his fourth MLS title, and just about everybody on the Galaxy bench before the game ended moments later.

Beckham streamed onto the field with his teammates and waved thanks at the fans before he was joined by his three sons, all clad in No. 23 Galaxy jerseys.

"Today was always going to be an emotional day for myself, win or lose," said Beckham.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 2, 2012 B5

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