Galaxy send Beckham out a champ with Cup final win over Dynamo
MVP Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane scored in a 3-1 L.A. win
The Dynamo made it physical and showed why they're the toughest playoff team
In the end, Los Angeles got the soccer side right in the David Beckham Experiment
LOS ANGELES -- Three thoughts off the Galaxy's 3-1 win over the Dynamo in the MLS Cup final ...
The Galaxy's three stars -- plus Omar González -- showed their quality again. Playing in his final MLS game, David Beckham was sensational for much of this final, spraying dangerous passes over the top and through the middle while constantly unsettling the Houston defense. He has always been a big-game player and did it again before going off to a huge home ovation in the game's final seconds. But L.A.'s other big names had their moments, too: Robbie Keane was a tricky menace in the box, creating numerous chances, eventually scoring a stoppage-time penalty kick. Landon Donovan came back from a horrible missed sitter in the first half to respond to pressure of the highest order by converting his second-half penalty to go up 2-1. Yet González was tremendous as well at both ends, winning every header that came his way on the back line and providing a textbook smart play in the second half by staying in the Houston box after a set piece and heading home Juninho's inch-perfect cross to tie the game at 1-1. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was in the house today, and based on what he saw from González -- named the match's MVP -- the 6-foot-5 defender should be an easy decision to call up for the U.S.' January camp.
Houston made life tough on another MLS foe. From the moment Ricardo Clark muscled Beckham to the ground in the first minute (with no whistle), you knew the tone was set for a physical game, the kind Houston likes to play. But the Dynamo showed more in possession than many would have expected, especially in the first half, and Calen Carr's goal just before halftime (beating Josh Saunders near-post) gave Houston a deserved 1-0 lead. Houston's front line never did get totally in sync, though, and the Galaxy defense prevented Brad Davis and Óscar Boniek García from having much of an impact in the second half. There's a reason Houston gets to these finals so often: The Dynamo are the hardest team in the league to play against in the playoffs.
L.A. made a lot of history here today. Most observers will remember this as Beckham's last game with the Galaxy, and in a sense you could call this the end of an era for the league as a result. For Beckham to go out with two MLS championships in a row is a reminder to everyone that in the end L.A. got the soccer side right in the Beckham Experiment. Give Beckham full credit for making Los Angeles his top priority in the last two years of his time here -- and for setting a standard that other big-name players can attempt to follow in the future. But there was more history, too. L.A. joined D.C. United as the most successful teams ever in MLS, with four championships each. Donovan became the third player in league history (after Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan) to win five MLS Cup finals. And Galaxy coach Bruce Arena won his all-time-best fourth MLS trophy as well. Ultimately, the Galaxy were the best team in the league this season, and they showed it on the field here Saturday.