LA Galaxy: MLS Cup winners
And the trophy is presented to LA, with the obligatory tickertape and Becks hugging one of his offspring.
Congratulations LA. Commiserations Houston.
Graham's match report will be online shortly.
Thanks for reading, emailing, tweeting. Sorry I couldn't use them all.
But, go on, in your heart of hearts you knew that Goldenballs wasn't to be denied his Hollywood ending...
Beckham refuses to answer questions about the jersey he will be wearing in the future: "I am pleased to be wearing this jersey today."
Just like being there...
Omar Gonzalez wins MLS Cup MVP after a fantastic performance at the back. And up front too...
Ryan Dunne has some scores to settle. He emails:
Beckham-haterz: GIRFUY! (as they in Glasgow but not, one imagines, in LA) ;)
And then again:
The World Cup Lou Roper refers to is the one England would not have attended if it wasn't for Beckham's heroics against Greece, suggesting that his 'place in the game' compares favourably to his coevals. I think Rob Smyth put it best.... http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/mar/27/joy-of-six-great-midfields?INTCMP=SRCH
Michael Cooney writes:
I'm absolutely delighted for Robbie Keane(I'm an Irish Tottenham fan) After the terrible time he and the rest of the Irish lads had at the Euros it's great to see him back scoring goals with a smile on his face. Well done Keano.
Andrew Hutchison emails:
Real Salt Lake wear those colors because Madrid-style colors would clash with their Magic Underwear, leaving them in violation of Law #4.
If it helps, call them "Fake Salt Lake" like we do in Colorado.
That was a great second-half performance by LA Galaxy. A goal down at half-time they battled back with goals from Gonzalez, Donovan and Keane. Trophy presentation in a moment. And some more of your thoughts....
LA Galaxy 3-1 Houston Dynamo
LA Galaxy have won the MLS Cup!
A rousing reception for Beckham. Houston pressure but it's too little, too late. LA 3-1 Houston...
Well, that's that then. Keane's sixth goal of the playoffs. And now Beckham gets his own special exit as he is subbed off...
Keane scores low into the corner. LA 3-1 Houston
Keane into the Houston box and clipped by Hall. Keane to take the penalty...
Houston break through Garcia, but Clark then gives the ball away. LA get the ball back and ...penalty to LA
Donovan gets a booking for taking an age over a throw-in.
Beckham passes to Donovan out wide and LA keep the ball deep in Houston territory.
LA break, Buddle to Keane, and the Irishman is brought down 30 yards out. Into injury time. Beckham to take the free-kick...3 mins of stoppage time to come
Chance! 89 mins
Davis' corner is punched by Saunders, but not far. Another cross and Ricardo Clark reaches it and heads goalward but it's safely into Saunders' hands. Still LA 2-1 Houston
LA aren't just sitting deep, they're chasing and harrying the Dynamo players at the back, trying to build attacks. And every time Davis gets the ball he is closed down. Barnes gets down the right and swings in a cross. Gonzalez clears for a corner...
Kandji finds Brad Davis but before he gets the chance to shoot he's closed down by the LA defenders. Finally Ching gets in a shot but it's soft and doesn't trouble Saunders. And then Ching has another chance but it goes just wide. Still LA 2-1 Houston
LA float the ball into the area and it's Beckham chasing...but he can't quite connect with the ball and it bobbles for a goal-kick. That was the storybook ending the editors back in England were looking for...
Kandji dances close to the LA area and the ball reaches Bruin via Ching, but his shot on the turn goes straight to Saunders.
Into the last ten minutes. Keane breaks for LA, jinking right and then left, before driving his shot into Tally Hall's body. Still LA 2-1 Houston
Ching breaks down the right but his cross is blocked. A low cross comes across and Meyer swings at the ball and rather comically misses, but Saunders is there to clear.
Buddle breaks for LA and finds Keane to his left who drives the ball low and hard from 25 yards. It goes just wide. Still LA 2-1 Houston. Time running short for Houston.
A long ball to Keane from Donovan, but Houston clear up and hoof the ball back downfield...
Bruin jinks and jives down the right inside the penalty area, but his low, hard cross is scrappily cleared. Still LA 2-1 Houston
Davis scurries with the ball 30 yards from goal, but when his pass finally reaches his man on the right, he's strayed offside. Houston are about to bring on their striking legend: Brian Ching. Stephens on for LA to replace a hobbling Juninho. Ching on for Sarkodie for Houston.
LA sitting deep. Edson Buddle warming up on the sidelines for Galaxy. Beckham almost sends Donovan clear but Boswell cuts it out. Wilhelmsson off for Buddle. Donovan will move to the right of midfield. Still LA 2-1 Houston
The Houston fans in the corner are trying to lift their team, but are being drowned out by their LA rivals. Houston having a little more of the ball but not carved out any clear-cut chances yet...
Houston take off Scot Moffat and replace him with Englishman Giles Barnes, formerly of Derby County
Bruin rises high but heads wide. Still LA 2-1 Houston
Kandji finds a yard of space in the LA area, but who is that back, tackling, but Mr Goldenballs himself. Good tackle. Houston corner...
Carr on the sidelines with his knee wrapped in clingfilm and ice and his head covered in a towel. On the field Houston need to regain composure.
Houston have a corner. But it's cleared. Do Dynamo have what is needed here?
A terrible ten minutes for Houston. They've been on their heels since Carr went off. That penalty was hard luck on Clark.
Donovan scores from the spot. 2-1.
Donovan's penalty sent the keeper the wrong way.
LA have a penalty for a handball against Clark...
Beckham with another dead-ball - 35 yards out in the middle - the ball reaches Gonzalez but is blocked....
...the ball reaches Gonzalez, who heads the ball towards the goal and Keane latches onto it about 2-yards out (just his range) and puts it home. But a flag went up for the Gonzalez climb over Boswell. Still 1-1.
The stadium is filled with confetti now and it's all LA. Another Galaxy corner for Beckham to take...
Omar Gonzalez ties the game with Jurgen Klinsmann looking on. Most valuable player (lower case) in 2012? @busfield— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) December 1, 2012
The crosses kept coming into the Houston area, and finally Juninho's cross to the back post reached Gonzalez, who rose high and nodded to the far post, out of Hall's reach. 1-1
Beckham's cross reaches Gonzalez at the back post and the LA defender rises to reach it, but it takes a deflection for another corner. This corner is cleared by Hall but LA....
Houston temporarily down to 10 men. And it looks like Kandji will replace Carr. Beckham has a free kick wide on the right...
While Carr remains on the turf (and is so hurt he's taken off his protective skullcap), here's a thought on the half-time proceedings:
Carr and Gonzalez clash and the Houston goalscorer is still on the turf.
Davis feeds Bruin on the left and the striker gets to the byline and chips the ball across. Carr wins the header, but it goes downwards and slows off the damp turf and is easily smothered by Saunders. Still Houston 1-0 LA
Juninho sends a long through ball for Donovan to chase. But Tally Hall plays sweeper to clear.
Beckham releases Keane down the left, and the Irishman wriggles free of the onrushing defenders and gets to the byline, but Hall blocks. Corner. Which is cleared easily.
Justin Kavanagh emails:
The devil in me would love to see this go to penalties to find out whether David Beckham, one of the game's finest ever strikers of a dead ball, has managed to finally master the art of scoring from 12 yards. It was always a mystery to me how often he blew it throughout a distinguished career, which isn't over yet, of course. Not sure how far from the sea the Home Depot Center is, but the Shipping Forecast should put out a warning now about the possibility of spherical objects dropping from the skies off the coast of LA at around 10.30 tonight.
Garcia wriggles into space in the Galaxy area and gets in a cross, but it's flicked clear. Again by the stone-hearted Gonzalez. Still Houston 1-0 LA
Houston lose the ball as they try to clear their lines. Beckham picks it up but wastes his pass straight to Boswell.
The cross comes in and Keane finds a yard of space and smashes it into the top of the net, but a flag goes up.... Still Houston 1-0 LA
Beckham finds Wilhelmsson on the right. The Swede falls over and wins a free-kick out wide. here comes Becks...
No subs at half-time. Will Houston try and sit on this lead? When will LA show the required urgency? Houston 1-0 LA
Sarkoside breaks down the right for Houston but can't get in a clear cross. Now Carr down the left but the ball spins out. Houston 1-0 LA
LA kick off and will kick from left to right in this second half...
Here come the teams again...
One last half-time thought...
One thing all Dynamo fans know: Dominic Oduro would have missed that goal completely. #CalenCarrIsAwesome— Dynamo Theory (@dynamotheory) December 1, 2012
45 minutes to go (unless we go to extra-time, obviously)
This is how it looked just before the first half:
A selection of you emails
Simon Frank writes:
greetings from Cairo. I've got to call you on this LA Galaxy global brand statement. When I see a kid on the streets of London, Milan or Cairo wearing an LA Galaxy shirt, I'll concede the point.
On an unrelated subject, can you explain why Real Madrid-inspired Real Salt Lake wear Barcelona colours?
Elliott Turner emails:
If Omar is the rock at the heart of the LA backline, does that mean their defense has a heart of stone?
Eric Calhoun emails about salaries:
It's even worse than Dave McGrath said. Forget $75k, to succeed in MLS you need contributions from squad players making $50k, and salaries go all the way down to $35k. It makes for a strange league, with real talent at the top but serious limitations with depth. Makes the debate over where a top team like LA would finish in the EPL or Championship quite convoluted.
Lou Roper writes:
Is it unfair to suggest that if Beckham (for evidence of his place in the game please refer to his non-tackle that led to the first Brazil goal in the 2002 World Cup quarter-final) that there would be no MBM of this match?
Not been following our MLS liveblogs throughout the season, Lou?
@busfield coincidence that the boards are advertising "new dinosaur hall now open" at Beckham's last game?— andrew hutchison (@drewhutchison) December 1, 2012
"U.S. reject" chant at Brad Davis audible on TV. @busfield— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) December 1, 2012
I think that goal will liven it up a bit...
Half-time thoughts coming up...
LA - and Beckham - looking like they feel the urgency a little more now. Peep...
One minute of injury time coming up...
That was a nice through-ball that fed Carr. Saunders sat down a little for the shot and could perhaps have done better. Game on...
Carr breaks down the right for Houston, gets into the box and hits his shot hard over Saunders. Houston 1-0 LA
LA camped in the Houston half and Keane tries to chip one to the Swede, but Dynamo clear.
Keane drops deep to collect the ball. He feeds the men overlapping on the left but the return cross is too low and easily cleared. Dunivant takes the throw in, collects the return but his cross hits the first tangerine head in the way.
The ball reaches Bruin but he can't get away a shot with the half-chance. LA clear. 0-0
Houston have turned this around and are now looking the more comfortable on the ball. Another cross comes in and Gonzalez again clears with his head. LA break but Keane gives the ball away when in a threatening position. 0-0
Clark clashes with LA left back Dunivant in the area. Clark falls but there's no calls for a penalty.
Davis shows some nice skill down the left for Houston, but Wilhelmsson does a good job staying with him and preventing the cross. Eventually LA get the ball back...and promptly give it away again. 0-0
LA clear the ball. Another cross comes in and again Gonzalez rises high to clear. But it's another corner for the Tangerine men...
As the game gets a bit scrappy, there's a pile of tweets and emails gathering on my computer. Will share those at half time. Thanks. Houston win a corner...
The pace has slowed appreciably since the first 10-15 minutes. How Donovan must wish he'd put away that chance. Houston keeping the ball in the LA half but unable to find any space for a shot.
Carr tries to find his way down the LA right flank but is closed down by Gonzalez. 0-0
Juninho down on the ground now, looking a little uncomfortably at his achilles, which has been injured recently. He's back up (and, as i failed to mention it before, Davis is back on too). 0-0
Houston show patience and keep the ball in the LA half before finally sloppily giving the ball away without having carved out a chance. Still 0-0.
Not sure I've seen Will Bruin touch the ball for Houston yet. Certainly not in the last 15 minutes. There's some nice passing in midfield by Dynamo, but their best goalscorer looks isolated.
Davis' corner is headed clear by Gonzalez, the rock at the heart of the LA backline.
LA starting to dominate and forcing Houston into some desperate tackles. And just as I type that Sarkodie, wide on the right for Houston, gets past his man and pokes a shot at the LA goal. Saunders tips it over, but that was cloooose.
Beckham finds Franklin near the right corner flag. The ball is worked back across and finally reaches Juninho, 20 yards out. He thumps the ball just wide. Still 0-0
Jamaican international Jermaine Taylor stops Robbie Keane in his tracks with a crunching tackle.
LA starting to find space in midfield.
This is fun. Saunders looking a little shaky early on as Houston pressuring him. Against DC, Houston were thinking twice about long balls in from Davis set pieces, but regardless of the presence of Gonzalez in the box, they're happy to put pressure on the LA goalkeeper here. LA not quite clicking yet, though Wilhelmsson's had a couple of little darts forward.
Oh hang on...No...How did Donovan miss that????
Boswell sends a back-pass too short for his keeper and Wilhelmsson almost reaches it, before falling spectacularly, claiming a penalty. Not given. Still 0-0.
Beckham's free-kick reaches Magee (one of his fave targets) but the header bounces into the ground and bounces just wide
Beckham flicks one over the Houston defence, which almost reaches Franklin, but is cleared. Only as far as the right corner of the Dynamo penalty area. Here comes a Beckham free-kick...
Houston break and the ball reaches Carr who tries an ambitious first time volley with the outside of his right boot. The ball flies harmlessly over. 0-0.
Beckham is fed the ball by Wilhelmsson and sends a first time cross to the edge of the six-yard box where it's cleared by Boswell (I think) with a back-header.
Keane finds space on the right and passes to Wilhelmsson 20 yards out, but he's quickly closed down by two Houston defenders. Houston break and it takes some awkward-looking defending for LA to clear the ball. Still 0-0.
Davis looks a little groggy as he walks to the sidelines. No sign of a sub yet though...
Brad Davis is down after tangling with Wilhelmsson. This is a worry for Houston. His absence last year was probably the difference between the teams.
LA break, Keane finds space and puts a perfect pass into the path of Donovan who sidefoots his shot agonisingly wide. Bad miss. Still 0-0.
Houston controlling the ball and keeping possession. Garcia threatens to get through the middle of the Galaxy but is stopped by a strong tackle from Juninho.
The sun is shining - for the moment - as play gets a little scrappy. Donovan looks to have set Willhelmsson free on the right but is called back for a handball.
LA counter but Willhelmsson's cross is easily blocked from the right.
Davis sends a lovely ball down the left for Houston and Will Bruin almost makes it, but Saunders is out smartly to block. The LA keeper does well not to carry the ball out of the box.
Beckham being closed down tightly in midfield, but this might open space for the rest of the Galaxy Galácticos. Franklin almost finds a way through on the right. The ball bobbles around the Dynamo area and Donovan eventually swings at the ball, but his shot bobbles to the keeper.
A quick free-kick by Beckham almost reaches Wilhelmsson, but Houston keeper Tally Hall gets there first.
It's all Houston at the moment - certainly less tentative than they were in 2011 when Davis was missing and Houston lacked that positive spark.
A little scrappy at the moment as Houston close down LA quickly. Brad Davis has a free-kick 45 yards out and slings it in, Saunders comes but can't collect. The ball bobbles around and Saunders makes another poor clearance. Corner to Dynamo
Houston throwing their weight around in midfield, and the ref allowing it. Dynamo break down the left and Ricardo Clark finds space for a shot, but it's beaten away by Saunders
And we're off...
Last tweets before KO
@busfield really love Beckham to get on the score sheet tonight, and take home the cup, what a credit he has been to the MLS.— Scott Creasy (@ScottCreasy) December 1, 2012
Ryan Dunne responds to Dave McGrath's email about the MLS pay structure:
Beckham 'only' the fifth most important player at united back in the day!? With all due respect to the honourable gentleman, Dave McGrath is talking Colin Nish. Beckham, rather than being overrated, is consistently underrated (is it Beckham's fault that misanthropic fitba fans regard him as a pretty boy pant salesman rather than what he, as footballer, was/is: i.e. the best crosser of the ball in the world at his peak? Are we to suppose that Sir Alex Ferguson made Beckham an integral part of the greatest midfield of the last twenty years (plus) for non-footballing reasons?) . In terms of wage structures more generally, I think an argument could be made that they do more harm than good. My own team, the Glorious Glasgow Rangers, is skint, but I think (to take a team at random) many an Arsenal fan would say that their team has suffered because the Van Persie's aren't earning much more than the Santos', for the spurious reason of 'harmony'. Zidanes and Pavones FTW!
Teams just announced to predictable boos for Houston and predictable cheers for the Galaxy. Largest roar of the day so far for the announcement of Landon Donovan's name.
Now we're getting some epic sweeping music and some balloons hoisting the team crests aloft. Trophy being carried into place now and the teams ambling onto the field beneath me.
Big banner being held up by LA Riot Squad
"This is Los Angeles
We win trophies.
Get used to it"
And yours, Chrissy?
MLS commentator Arlo White has tweeted out this lovely sepia-tinted picture from LA:
There's some very big balloons on the pitch. And some dark clouds on the horizon (which my colleague Graham, sat up in the Gods, is a trifle anxious about):
Here come the teams
The teams are coming down the tunnel and kick off will be coming very shortly. The Home Depot Center looks ready for the party, with a big patch of tangerine in one corner.
Beyond Beckham's much-written about future, this game could also feature the farewell appearances of two US soccer legends, Landon Donovan and Brian Ching. A little more about that here.
And, for a little more pre-match reading, here's an interview with Houston's Adam Moffat, who previously played in the lower reaches of the Scottish leagues.
This is what they are playing for (beyond Beckham's legacy, that is)
LA Galaxy: (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Gonzalez, Meyer, Franklin, Magee, Juninho, Beckham, Wilhelmsson, Keane, Donovan
Subs: DeLagarza, Gaul, Noonan, Stephens, Sarvas, Perk, Buddle
Houston Dynamo: (4-4-2) Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Boswell, Sarkodie, Moffat, Clark, Davis, Garcia, Bruin, Carr
Subs: Weaver, Ching, Hainault, Kandji, Camargo, Deric, Barnes
So pretty much as Tom and I called it. Clark made it into the Houston side, and finally gets to start an MLS Cup on the third attempt. Have a feeling Kandji will play a part at some point, but whether that's a Ricky Villa dribble and wonder goal, or a point blank miss we'll have to wait and see.
Interesting to see how quickly Meyer settles for the Galaxy - Bruin will be making a beeline for him to test the young player.
Big atmosphere building here.
A tweet from Chicago Fire fans:
And here's a favour returned...
When Becks comes to town...
Elliott Turner emails:
For me, the big story is how MLS grew around and then beyond Beckham. His first season, he was a crutch and the league milked every appearance. Now, the Galaxy can come to town and no mention of Golden balls nor inflated ticket prices. #Growth
Not entirely surprisingly there has been a lot of talk about Beckham's influence and legacy in the US over the last few days. Two of the best of which were written by my colleague, Graham. (I know I would say that, wouldn't I. But it's true):
@busfield what time is kick off Steve? (Uk time). Cheers— Dave Carter (@davecarter100) December 1, 2012
Kick off is due at 2pm Pacific Time, 5pm Eastern Time, 10pm GMT. (And here's a handy guide to timezones. Never gets old).
Dave McGrath emails:
I cannot fathom how squad harmony can exist when Becks and Keane paid upwards of 2.5 mill a season and some of their team mates on 75k per year - at the Galaxy - Ridiculous differential. Beckham was probably only the fifth most important Utd player in the squad back in the day. His marketing people are nothing short of remarkable, we are in loaves and fishes territory here.
And you (and everyone else) can see exactly how much they are all paid here, because MLS wants us all to know that Becks is paid a small fortune more than some of his teammates. But, it ought to be said, it is the players' union which publishes the figures. And, while Beckham is paid a lot, it is nowhere near the astronomical figures that were touted when he first signed for LA. And Goldenballs has put LA's soccer team on the map. Before The Beckham Experiment, who had heard of LA Galaxy (outside the MLS faithful)? Now they are a global "brand".
From our man at HDC
Graham Parker writes:
Up in the corner of what's currently a very wet Home Depot Center, trying to keep rain off my laptop. It's a little cool and blustery out here in the extended press box. Saw a lot of our regular fan previewers outside the ground, who all say something between "Hi" and "gwarrrch" depending on their state of inebriation pre-game.
Decent Houston contingent tailgating out in Lot 16 - which in relative terms to where the stadium itself is, is marginally closer than Arizona. But they're doing a coordinated walk-in fairly soon, and their section at the Victoria Street end (I think) is beginning to fill up with Orange shirts already. I should mention I was given a very nice limited edition Texian Army t-shirt by our regular Houston previewer Mike Porter. He's sticking by his 2-1 prediction for Houston. Nobody on either side is being very bold about their side's prospects, and the press box fairly cagey too. Looking forward to a tight game.
The atmosphere at HDC
The tailgating parties at HDC have been in full swing for several hours now, with the LA supporter groups setting up camp from 7am (PT). Here's a taste of the occasion:
A tweet from one of David's former teammates...
So, who do you think will win? Our MLS previewers were mainly, but not entirely, backing Galaxy. Our LA and Houston fan previewers split pretty much along the lines you would expect.
Back in March I predicted Galaxy would retain the MLS Cup. It would be silly to change my mind now. But this Houston team have had a fine playoff run and should not be underestimated.
MLS Cup 2011
So, here's how it played out when these two teams met in last year's final:
Welcome to The
David Beckham Farewell Show MLS Cup final 2012: LA Galaxy vs Houston Dynamo. Will the Galaxy Galácticos give Goldenballs the perfect Hollywood ending, riding off into the sunset with his second MLS Cup in two years? Or will Houston Dynamo spoil the party and gain revenge for their defeat at the same venue against the same opposition in 2011?
Last year Houston looked lost without their own dead-ball specialist, Brad Davis, injured before the final. But this year he will be there challenging Beckham for the Fanciest Bending Free-kick in MLS Award. And alongside him, Dynamo have a team that could upset the media predictions: Will Bruin has been scoring, Ricardo Clark has added steel, and Brian Ching is still around to come off the bench for some surf's up heroics.
The Galaxy lineup remains remarkably similar to last year's featuring not just the former England captain, but US stalwart Landon Donovan, Irish poacher Robbie Keane, and the rock at the heart of its back four, Omar Gonzalez.
If you'd like to know more about the teams, here is our guide to the 22 likely starters, plus subs and coaches.
Over the next hour or two we will be catching up with the atmosphere in South California. Our man Graham Parker is at the HDC, enjoying the tailgate parties before the serious business begins.
Kick off is scheduled for 2pm Pacific Time, 5pm Eastern Time, 10pm GMT.
So, please join us for the big game to decide who is top dog in Major League Soccer 2012. And please share your thoughts for inclusion in the blog via email to email@example.com or via Twitter to @Busfield. (I'm wearing a Disneyland Hawaiian shirt in honour of the occasion. What about you?)