2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy

Should David Beckham have taken the final penalty kick?


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.”

(MORE: Further retirement hints from Donovan)

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.

(MORE: Man of the Match Omar Gonzalez)

(MORE: A few additional words about David Beckham’s MLS farewell)

Chelsea: Conte expects warm reception for Mourinho; Terry is fit

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  A fan wears a Chelsea scarf with the image of the club's former manager, Jose Mourinho before the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on December 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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The managers are meeting the media ahead of this week’s Premier League matches, and many eyes are trained on one specific match-up.

Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday, the first time Jose Mourinho will manage against his old side since his unceremonious exit last winger.

[ USWNT: Holiday has tumor removed ]

Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.

“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”

Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. The manager guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.

“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”

Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.

Canada vs. U.S. among top-notch CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JUNE 20:  Gershon Koffie #28 of the Vancouver Whitecaps brings the ball up field against Dax McCarty #11 of the New York Red Bulls at B.C. Place on June 20, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images)
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The bracket is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and ensures that at least one MLS vs. Liga MX semifinal will happen next Spring.

No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls will cross the continent to meet No. 8 Vancouver Whitecaps, with the winner moving on to face the victor of Mexico’s Tigres UANL vs. Pumas UNAM.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.

Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.

Full schedule
New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)

The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).

Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).

Report: USWNT star Holiday has brain tumor removed

Costa Rica v United Staes: Final - 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth.

Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers.

[ MORE: UCL Final in United States? ]

The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife.

The BBC added this tidbit:

Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players.

Get well soon, Lauren.

WATCH: FC Dallas rocket goal sends Guatemalan rainwater flying off net

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Carlos Lizarazo #22 of FC Dallas looks on during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Carlos Lizarazo’s ridiculous rocket shook rain off the net in an aesthetically pleasing CONCACAF Champions League goal on Thursday.

The Cruz Azul loanee struck a vicious shot for FC Dallas’ fifth goal, which boosted out of the No. 8 seed for the quarterfinals after a 5-2 win at Suchitepéquez in Guatemala.

[ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman ]

Lizarazo, 25, had two goals in 10 appearances for FCD heading into the game, with both coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.