The Los Angeles Galaxy sent David Beckham out a winner, locking down a 3-1 victory over Houston in the MLS Cup final this past Saturday, and giving the Englishman—who had announced that this game would be his last in the league—his second U.S. domestic title in six seasons.
That was only the most high-profile chunk of history carved out at the Home Depot Center. Landon Donovan, who may be headed elsewhere as well, won a record-tying fifth MLS championship and became the league’s alltime leading scorer in all competitions when he scored the Cup-winning goal from the spot, giving him 146 career goals (regular season and playoffs).
The win delivered Los Angeles its fourth MLS Cup title, tied with D.C. United for the most ever.
There was also coach Bruce Arena’s fourth title—two more than any other coach in MLS history—and a second consecutive one for Irish international Robbie Keane, who who iced the game with a penalty in stoppage time, scoring his sixth goal of the playoffs, tied for second-most alltime in a single postseason.
Twenty-four year-old center back and budding U.S. national team prospect Omar Gonzalez completed his return from a torn ACL (suffered in January) by winning the game MVP award.
Also historic, if only for its Halley’s Comet–like rarity, was our spot-on—3-1 LA—pregame prediction (scroll down for it).
To the highlights, which really should be run in sepia tones:
Still can’t believe Donovan missed that sitter in the first half.
Adding to the end-of-an-era, history-making aspect of the game was the talk afterward about this Galaxy team’s place in the MLS pantheon. Are they best team in the league’s 17 years?
They’ve been to three finals and won two. They’ve won two Supporters’ Shields (and narrowly missed a third), and they suit up the league’s best player all-time in Donovan, its most galvanizing in Beckham, and one of its deadliest strikers ever in Keane.
Still, for over all balance and accomplishment, we’d give the nod to the D.C. United teams from 1996 to ’99.
They appeared in four straight finals, won three, and featured Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno in their primes, alongside U.S. national teamers Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos, John Harkes, Roy Lassiter, Carlos Llamosa, Ben Olsen, and Richie Williams.
That D.C. dynasty also won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, a precursor to the CONCACAF Champions League, and, most impressively, the ’98 Copa Interamericana, a competition between the winners of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the South American Copa Libertadores.
The Black-and-Red defeated Brazil’s Vasco da Gama to win that trophy, and it’s probably the most impressive competitive notch on MLS’s belt in 17 years as a league.
This Galaxy side is a good and historic one, but they’re a shade behind that D.C. club.
They do have one thing in common with them, though: coach Bruce Arena.