David Beckham: Five Memorable Major League Soccer Moments
Despite December's MLS Cup Final being his last match in a LA Galaxy shirt, David Beckham isn't ready to retire just yet.
The Englishman's future isn't clear, however, Beckham will have the opportunity to leave MLS in style. The 37-year-old has already won a MLS title in 2011, and if the Galaxy can retain the trophy this year, it will put a true Hollywood ending on his time at the Home Depot Center.
Beckham's time in Southern California may not have started as hoped, but there's no denying he has not only increased the league's appeal to players and fans alike, but he has also been a major part of the Galaxy on and off the field.
Now with the Englishman's days numbered, here are five of Beckham's most memorable moments as a member of the LA Galaxy.
Beckham Leaves Real Madrid for LA Galaxy
The football world was turned on its head in 2007, when Real Madrid midfielder and football's biggest piece of merchandise, David Beckham, signed with LA Galaxy. Initial figures reported the deal to be worth $250 million in total. However, those rumours were quickly squashed and it was finally revealed the midfielder would make $6.5 million a year for five years.
Overnight, MLS and the Galaxy received attention not seen since Pele and New York Cosmos. Beckham joined LA after winning the Spanish Liga title with Real Madrid, and hopes were high he could immediately replicate his form for the Galaxy.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury would hamper Beckham's first season in MLS as the fervour to see the Englishman reached unrealistic heights. Reports even surfaced of fans who called the Galaxy's front desk demanding the injured star to play because they had purchased tickets in advance.
Beckham's first season also saw the franchise re-design their club badge and colors. But the increase in season tickets and shirt sales did little to help the team on the pitch as the Galaxy missed the playoffs. It would be Beckham's third season in the league when the team finally made the playoffs, and 2007 ended with the Englishman looking to return to Europe.
Training with Arsenal, Loans to AC Milan
Beckham became the first high-profile player to keep up his fitness with a European team during the close season. In January 2008, Beckham rubbed many Galaxy fans the wrong way by training with Arsenal during the MLS offseason.
Many thought this was Beckham's attempt at engineering a move back to Europe. However, Beckham's true motivation for training with the Gunners was to stay in-line for a England national team call-up.
Following the 2008 MLS season and another poor year with the Galaxy, Beckham again returned to Europe. This time he pulled on the famous red and black shirt of AC Milan in January 2009.
Beckham featured 18 times for the Rossoneri and notched two goals for the club. Beckham's desire to play in Europe during the MLS offseason wasn't accepted by many Galaxy fans, and following his return, many declared their dislike for his apparent disinterest in the team.
The Englishman quieted many of his ardent critics by helping the Galaxy to the MLS Cup final. Unfortunately for LA supporters, the Galaxy lost the final to Real Salt Lake on penalties.
In January 2010, Beckham once again returned to Milan in preparation for the World Cup. Just as the midfielder was hitting form, he tore his Achilles tendon, ruling him out of not only the World Cup but much of the 2010 MLS season.
On May 24, 2008, Gold Balls added to his legacy by scoring a 70-yard goal against the Kansas City Wizards.
The goal was reminiscent of the goal that put Beckham on the map, which came in 1996 against Wimbledon in the English Premiership, and caused Beckham-mania to emerge thereafter.
MLS Cup 2009
In 2009, LA Galaxy finished the MLS regular season as winners of the Western Conference. After squeaking through the playoffs, the club entered the cup final as favourites against Real Salt Lake.
The final went according to script until the 64th minute when RSL's Robbie Findley equalized Mike Magee's first half goal. The match went to extra-time and penalties where LA supporters experienced heartbreak.
Beckham buried his penalty kick, but Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle missed, dooming the Galaxy to runners-up.
MLS Cup 2011
After four years of disappointment in a Galaxy shirt, Beckham and company completely dominated the MLS regular season in 2011. The club followed up their Supporters' Shield win by steamrolling through the playoffs.
The Galaxy outplayed the Houston Dynamo in the final and lifted their first trophy since 2005 when the club won the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup.
Beckham and the Galaxy now have the opportunity to lift the trophy in front of their home fans once more. The team will face the Dynamo for the second-straight season in the final, and Beckham has the opportunity to finish his time in MLS in true Hollywood fashion.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer, Drew writes for ForzaItalianFootball.com and covers Genoa CFC. Drew also hosts the Forzaitalianfootball.com weekly Club Focus podcast. Drew can also be read on MajorLeagueSoccerTalk.com and writes his own personal soccer and travel blog at Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey.