David Beckham’s LA Galaxy team-mates urged him to stay on for another year after they won their second successive MLS Cup on Saturday, and while their hopes will surely be in vain, the reaction epitomized the affection in which he has come to enjoy.
A chant of ‘one more year’ rang out from the Galaxy locker-room as the players celebrated their win after Beckham’s final game in Major League Soccer. Galaxy retained their title with a 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamo in the final.
An entertaining game in front of a lively, capacity 30,510 crowd, was a fitting way for Beckham to end his six seasons in MLS as he added another title to his collection.
LA had to come from behind after Calen Carr put Houston ahead a minute before the break, breaking free down the Galaxy left and blasting in a near post shot, but the home side took control in the second half.
Defender Omar Gonzalez headed in the equaliser on the hour from a Juninho cross before Landon Donovan converted a penalty five minutes later to give the Galaxy the lead, after Ricardo Clark was ruled to have handled.
Striker Robbie Keane, who had two efforts disallowed, got his reward in injury time when Houston keeper Tally Hall tried to bring him down and the Irishman rose to slot home the penalty.
"We were telling David that we wanted him for one more year," said defender Todd Dunivant. "We said that last year too and we got it, so why not push our luck a little bit? We will see what happens."
Beckham, however, has been adamant that now is the right time for him to end his time as a player in MLS and enjoy one more challenge, with so far an unnamed team, before returning to MLS in an ownership role.
His coach Bruce Arena said he was sure the former England captain, who has won league titles in his homeland with Manchester United and in Spain with Real Madrid before two titles with Galaxy, would find success. "Many would think it is the last chapter, I think David thinks there is another chapter and if there is it is probably going to be another great championship," he said.
But while Beckham’s passing, set-pieces and influence on his Galaxy team-mates have all been ingredients in the past six years that have pleased Arena, it has been the midfielder's off field impact which has delighted many in the States. "Twenty years from now we are going to look at this league and still talk about David Beckham as the one who helped turn us," said Arena.
Former US national team goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who played in England, Spain and Germany before returning home and playing in MLS for the Seattle Sounders, said Beckham had been exactly what the North American league needed.
"It was at a time when the league needed something to give it a big global kick-start and there wasn't a bigger global personality in the game than David Beckham," he told Reuters. "It just made the league relevant, made people take notice and because of that other teams were able to step up."