David Beckham's playing tenure with the Los Angeles Galaxy will come to an end at MLS Cup.
The Los Angeles Galaxy announced Monday that Beckham's last game with the club will be the league's championship game on Dec. 1, when the Galaxy take on the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center in a rematch of last year's league final. Unlike last year, though, when Beckham chose to come back for another season in Los Angeles despite his first contract with the club coming to an end and rampant interest from Paris St-Germain, Beckham's time playing for the club will come to a close.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career," Beckham said in a team release. "I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future."
Beckham, 37, was brought to MLS from Real Madrid in 2007, with the league creating the Designated Player rule for him specifically, allowing teams to spend more outside of the league's strict salary cap to sign high-profile talent that would raise the profile of the league both domestically and abroad.
"When David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007, he set out to help grow MLS and the sport of soccer in North America," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived. David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the LA Galaxy and the league."
Beckham's tenure in MLS was rocky for the opening years, with the Galaxy going through ups and downs and Beckham himself departing on a loan to AC Milan in which he claimed he wanted to remain with the Italian club. Things smoothed in recent years though, and Beckham's game in MLS raised to new heights last season when he made the league's Best XI for the first time and helped lead the club to an MLS Cup championship.
The iconic Englishman scored 18 goals and had 40 assists in 98 regular season games over six seasons and was a three-time All-Star in addition to his Best XI nod in 2011. His 15 assists last season were a single-season high for him in the league, as were his seven goals this season. Beckham also has had eight assists in 16 career playoff games, including one in each of the Galaxy's four playoff victories en route to last year's league title. Even though he proved to be valuable on the field with his play, he made an even bigger impact on the league's attendance numbers, exposure and marketability.
"In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year," Beckham said. "I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in LA and across the States. Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country, and I want to always be part of growing it."
Beckham's departure will open up a Designated Player spot on the Galaxy's roster. Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka have recently been linked with the club as potential additions. For Beckham, meanwhile, he maintains a clause in his contract with the league that could see him move to the owners box. He has also recently been speculated to be going to an Australian club, though he dismissed the notion when asked last week.
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