David Beckham ended his LA Galaxy career in glory, collecting a second MLS Cup title with a 3-1 victory against Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center.
Calen Carr had given the Dynamo the lead against the run of play in the penultimate minute of the first half but the Galaxy fought back with three unanswered second-half goals to secure back-to-back MLS Cup wins.
Omar Gonzalez headed them level on the hour before Landon Donovan converted a penalty following a Ricardo Clark handball five minutes later.
The Dynamo introduced all-time leading goal-scorer Brian Ching as they chased an equaliser, but Irish striker Robbie Keane dispatched a second penalty in stoppage-time to seal the victory.
"This is the goal we set ourselves at the start of the season," said Beckham, who received a standing ovation when he was substituted in the final seconds. "It is another special occasion to win a championship at home, in front of our fans and our families."
"I think today was always going to be an emotional day for myself, win or lose. I've been here for six years and part of a team that has kept the majority of their players together. Coming off was tough but I enjoyed the win today.
"It never gets old, 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."
Having made a sluggish start to the defence of their MLS title with a meagre three wins from their first 13 regular season games, the Galaxy began this game with intent but failed to turn their early dominance into an advantage.
First, with very little pressure on the ball in midfield, Beckham found Keane in behind Bobby Boswell with a sweeping cross-field ball, but Donovan contrived to put the square ball from the Irishman wide from nine-yards out with 14 minutes gone.
The Dynamo were a threat on the break, but with Omar Gonzalez marshalling the Galaxy back four they looked comfortable despite some shaky goalkeeping - particularly in set-piece situations - from Josh Saunders.
Unfortunately for the Dynamo, they did not have a player of Gonzalez’s quality amongst their ranks as Mike Magee managed to escape the attention of a gaggle of Houston defenders only to head a Beckham free-kick down and then over the bar from three yards out with 21 minutes gone.
Following a frenetic start, the pace of the match began to slow as the half progressed, which appeared to suit the men from Houston as a more pedestrian pace allowed the visitors to get more ball into the box with Saunders continuing to look suspect.
Keane and Donovan had been electric in the post season, but apart from that early chance they rarely combined and failed to put pressure on the Dynamo defence when required, and it was off a quick ball from back to front that the Orange Crush scored in the penultimate minute of the half.
Carr bent his run behind Tommy Meyer before remaining composed, waiting for Saunders to go down and firing into the net at the near post to give his side the lead at the interval.
By his post-season standards, Keane had a sluggish first half but was bright come the opening exchanges of the second period.
He finished cleverly on a tight angle only to have his celebration cut short by the assistant referee’s aloft flag, before he ran at Corey Ashe at pace and forced Tally Hall to save from an angle even more acute.
The Dynamo had chances of their own, the most presentable of which fell to Carr, who was unable to generate enough power on a Will Bruin cross 10 minutes into the second half.
But the Galaxy pressure would soon pay off, as Gonzalez rose highest to head a Juninho cross past Hall on the hour.
Having drawn level, the Galaxy were as rampant as the Dynamo were ragged and the almost relentless probing from the home side was to pay further dividends on 65 minutes when Clark handled a goal-bound Gonzalez effort to give away a penalty.
Donovan remained composed to give the Galaxy the lead. A now more open game played heavily into the hands of Bruce Arena’s men with Beckham afforded more time on the ball to dictate the play as the game drew to a close.
The fragility of a one-goal advantage was almost exposed by the Dynamo’s own veteran, Brian Ching. The second-half substitute had Saunders scrambling across his goal with 88 minutes on the clock, having been afforded too much time on the edge of the box, but Ching's effort whistled just wide.
Into stoppage-time, the Dynamo overcommitted and Keane made the most of it by first breaking the offside trap and then drawing the foul from Hall inside the box.
The Irishman dusted himself off and dispatched the kick past Hall in the last minute to secure the MLS Cup for the fourth time and the second year running.
As far as farewells go, this was a Hollywood ending for the departing Beckham, who leaves the MLS after six seasons with another title added to his collection.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Dynamo
- David Beckham