November 2011: “Becks” to help Galaxy reach for the stars

For the first time in six years Los Angeles Galaxy have the chance to win the championship title in the North American Major League Soccer, MLS. In the final match of the 2011 season on November 20 (Sunday) the champions of the Western Conference will meet Houston Dynamo, the winners of the Eastern Conference. For both Los Angeles and Houston it could bring their third title. Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2002 and 2005, Dynamo triumphed in 2006 and 2007.

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Houston Dynamo rejoice after winning the championship in the Eastern Conference of the MLS after beating Sporting Kansas City. (Photo: Getty Images)


This last and decisive match, in which Galaxy want to reach for the stars, could also herald the farewell appearance of superstar David Beckham for the Los Angeles club. “Becks is back” reads the MLS Internet site. This holds true for the final which will be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. But for Beckham this final at LA Galaxy’s home stadium will possibly be his swansong after a successful interlude in the United States of America. For the 36-year-old Englishman’s five-year contract in the North American professional league expires at the end of the season.

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Robbie Keane (14), David Beckham (23) and Todd Dunivant (2) of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrate the third goal against Real Salt Lake. (Photo: Getty Images)


Beckham could continue his career in Europe. The former star player in the England national team and Manchester United is still in good shape. Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers and Paris St. Germain are said to be interested in signing “Becks”. But Beckham has been very quiet about his plans for the future. He said he is fully focussing on Galaxy.

Galaxy defeated Salt Lake and New York

In the Western Conference final Los Angeles defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 at the Home Depot Center. Landon Donovan (2nd minute penalty), Mike Magee (58th) and Robbie Keane (68th) scored the goals for LA in front of 23,437 spectators. Alvaro Saborio managed an early equaliser for RSL in the 25th minute to make it 1-1. Houston Dynamo won the last match of the Eastern Conference 2-0 against Sporting Kansas City. Goals from Andre Hainault (53rd) and Carlo Costly (87th) in front of 20,839 spectators at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City opened the door to the final for the Texans.

LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls met in the semi-finals of the Western Conference. Los Angeles won the second leg at home at Home Depot Center 2-1, after trailing 1-0 in front of 20,000 fans. Luke Rodgers (4th) scored first for New York. Magee (42nd) equalised and Donovan scored the winning goal from the penalty spot (75th). LA had also won the first leg at Red Bull Arena (22,663 spectators) 1-0 with Magee netting in the 15th minute. Former German international goalkeeper Frank Rost was in goal for the Red Bulls. Beckham achieved assists in all matches.

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Los Angeles Galaxy’s Landon Donovan (10) and David Beckham (23) tussle for the ball with New York Red Bulls’ goalkeeper Frank Rost (1) (Photo: Getty Images)


In the second Western Conference semi-final Real Salt Lake defeated the Seattle Sounders 3-2 on aggregate. The 3-0 cushion from their home match in Utah was enough for RSL. However, Seattle failed by just one goal in the second leg, winning 2-0. In the Eastern Conference Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City achieved two wins each in the semi-finals. Houston won 2-1 at Philadelphia Union and then 1-0 at home.  Sporting KC defeated the Colorado Rapids away 2-0 and by the same result at home. Thus Rapids, the 2010 champions, were deprived of any chance of successfully defending their title.

In a wild card game after the previous 34-game season, Colorado beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 at home, while the New York Red Bulls reached the Conference semi-finals with a 2-0 success at FC Dallas. 

LA Galaxy had proved to be the most successful team by far during the regular season. “It’s our year”, said Omar Gonzalez, the best MLS defender. Los Angeles had lost the 2009 final to Real Salt Lake and was ousted by FC Dallas in the 2010 Conference final.

Galaxy will have to play without Chad Barrett in the encounter with Houston Dynamo, the team the Californians beat to win the 2009 Western Conference final. The striker, who moved from FC Toronto to LA during the winter break, is injured. But the team coached by former US national coach Bruce Arena has a very good alternative in attack with Magee, who scored three decisive goals in the play-offs. “I have never played that well in my career. I feel very good, mentally as well as physically”, said Magee in an interview with the Internet site of the International Football Association, FIFA (www.FIFA.com). The former New York player particularly benefited from Beckham’s all-round skills. “Becks” was the most successful passer of the ball in the 2011 MLS season. LA now hope for another brilliant Beckham performance to help crown an outstanding year with a third title.