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Beckham seeks to secure MLS legacy
Published : 20 Nov 2011 03:46:40
David Beckham will try to cement his Major League Soccer legacy with a championship on Sunday when his Los Angeles Galaxy take on the Houston Dynamo for the MLS Cup.
The former England captain, who created a sensation when he arrived Stateside in 2007, is in the last year of a ground-breaking five-year deal with the Galaxy.
He could yet extend his tenure in Los Angeles, or he could make a move back to Europe, where French club Paris Saint-Germain have expressed interest.
Beckham says he won't even think about that until after Sunday, when he hopes to add an MLS title to the six English league titles he won with Manchester United and the Spanish league crown he claimed with Real Madrid.
The fact that the Galaxy's home ground of the Home Depot Center, in suburban Carson, was selected as the venue for the MLS Cup means Beckham has a chance to go out on a high note in front of the fans who greeted him five years ago.
Beckham, however, insisted his desire for the title is not a personal quest.
"I think wherever you play, whatever you want to do in your life, you want to be successful," he said. "I?ve been lucky enough throughout my career to be successful with Manchester United and successful at Real Madrid.
"Of course I want to win the Cup on Sunday. But it?s more important for the club that we win the Cup on Sunday than myself."
The Galaxy boast three of the league's top players in Beckham, USA international Landon Donovan and Ireland captain Robbie Keane -- who arrived this season.
For the second year in a row, the Galaxy claimed the MLS Supporter's Shield as the team with the best record in the regular season.
In England or Spain that would have been enough to make Beckham and his teammates champions, but in classic US sports style the MLS awards its crown to the team that goes all the way in the MLS Cup playoffs.
"It?s only the last year or two that I?ve started to understand the playoffs," Beckham admitted. "Playing in European things when you win the league you're champions.
"We've had success in the last three years, we've got to the MLS Cup final, we've won two Supporters' Shields," said Beckham, whose only other appearance in the MLS Cup final was in the Galaxy's loss to Real Salt Lake in 2009.
"We want the big one," he said. "We want the MLS Cup."
The Galaxy are unbeaten in 23 matches at home this season. Houston coach Dominic Kinnear, whose side were floundering before a late-season surge carried them into the playoffs, knows Dynamo face a tough task.
But even after the loss to injury of play-maker Brad Davis, Kinnear was bullish on his team's chances of claiming a third MLS Cup in six years. He guided them to back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, after the club was relocated from San Jose.
"If you look at it on paper, the odds probably lean toward LA," Kinnear said. "But it's a Cup final. It's 90 minutes of football. Anything can happen."
Kinnear is also unfazed by the focus on Beckham and his high-profile teammates.
"If we get lost in the shuffle, that's the way it is," he said. "I don't really care what other people think.
That's lucky, since the 36-year-old Beckham is one of the most recognizable faces in world sport, garnering headlines wherever he goes.
His MLS career has had plenty of rocky moments, including injuries and an extended loan to AC Milan that had some -- including teammate Donovan -- questioning his commitment to the US league.
This season, Beckham excelled as the Galaxy's playmaker, credited with setting up 15 goals in the regular season and three more in the playoffs.
"David has delivered for us on all aspects beyond our expectations, on and off the field," MLS commissioner Don Garber said last week. "I have to say MLS wouldn?t be what it is today if David didn?t decide in 2007 to come play in Major League Soccer."