CARSON, Calif. – The moment of ultimate MLS poignancy was there for David Beckham, to potentially punctuate his six-year MLS career in the most outstanding way possible: by clinching the MLS Cup in his final match. With what probably would have been his last kick in Major League Soccer, no less.
But Robbie Keane stepped up to lash the decisive, final blow as the Galaxy finished off the wounded and all-but-beaten Houston Dynamo.
A few of members of the British press – this being the Galaxy of recent years, there are always squad-strength groups of British press about – were chirping a bit about the choice of penalty kick shooters. Why didn’t Beckham move in for that shot?
Not that they should have; Landon Donovan has been the Galaxy penalty kick taker of choice for years. Keane has been the second choice for two years now.
Beckham? He does a lot, as we know – but taking penalty kicks just isn’t one of them.
Still, it was an interesting situation. Did Beckham perhaps have that moment where he thought about it? He did have a quick word with Donovan as Keane walked to the spot, ball in hand. But Beckham later explained what was going on.
“I told Landon to take it and he told me to take it because he was too tired,” Beckham said. “At the end of the day, all I want is to win the game. It’s not about me taking a penalty to top things off. It’s about winning the game and winning the championship. The discussion was simple – I told Landon to take it, but I don’t think he could even walk up to the penalty spot, so Robbie took it.”
Besides all that, what if Beckham had stepped up – and missed! Even No. 23 himself had a laugh Saturday about how he has missed some of those in the past over his long career.
And on the subject of penalty kicks, Beckham also took a quick moment to talk about Donovan’s game-winning kick.
Donovan had missed such a glistening opportunity early in the first half. The U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer admitted he brooded about it until halftime. So when the opportunity rose to make amends – the ultimate scoring opportunity in soccer, but one dripping with pressure for that very reason – Donovan admitted he was quite nervous about the shot.
Beckham laid it on the line for the man sitting to his left at the press conference:
“It took balls for Landon to step up and take that kick,” Beckham said.