CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan scored the tiebreaking goal on a penalty kick in the 65th minute, and David Beckham left Major League Soccer as a two-time champion with the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup on Saturday.
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.
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 MLS record.
The Galaxy also gave an appropriate farewell to Beckham, the 37-year-old English midfielder who transformed the league and his team over six seasons in Los Angeles. Beckham will play elsewhere in the new year before eventually returning to MLS as a team owner, but he hasn’t disclosed his immediate plans.
After Calen Carr put Houston ahead in the 44th minute, Beckham and his high-scoring teammates systematically broke down the defense 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.
Donovan even 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 postseason career.
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.
These two franchises have combined to win eight of the last 12 MLS titles, dating back to the Dynamo’s days in San Jose. Houston seems stuck as a supporting player in the Galaxy’s story, although the departures of Beckham and maybe Donovan will trigger big offseason changes in Los Angeles.
Former Gonzaga Bulldogs standout Brian Ching entered as a 78th minute substitute for Houston.