CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham will end his six year stay with the LA Galaxy on Saturday with three appearances in MLS Cup in his six years with the club. While LA have flourished over the last four years under the stewardship of head coach Bruce Arena, in the early days of Beckham’s arrival, things were hardly easy for the midfielder of the Galaxy.
In fact, according to then-head coach Frank Yallop, at times they were downright “wild.” From the outset, attention was overwhelming as the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star drew considerable press from around the world for his arrival in the United States.
"The first year, when I was here, was kind of crazy, to be honest," Yallop said Thursday. "Nobody knew how big he was globally. I had no idea. I had seen him on TV and met him once before signed, then all of a sudden he's here. I think it took everybody by surprise how popular he is. "I think Alexi [Lalas, the Galaxy's general manager in 2007] said it was a circus. It wasn't that far off.
"[The beginning of Beckham’s tenure] was wild," Yallop added "I've never seen so many photographers the first game [a World Football Challenge match against Chelsea]. There were 300 or something standing, we couldn't even get to the bench. They weren't taking photographs of us. I don't think we understood what it was all about, and when you're in it, it was like, 'Whoa.' Everyone's head was spinning. It was difficult to concentrate on soccer to be honest."
The Galaxy narrowly missed out on the postseason finishing the season with a 9-14-7 record with Beckham making five appearances after joining the club in July. LA’s strong finish to the season was not enough to save Yallop’s job as he was removed just days after the season and ultimately replaced by Dutchman Ruud Gullit.
The former Dutch International’s time in L.A. was no better as he too, along with Lalas were removed midway through the 2008 season in favor of Arena.
"Once Bruce got here to settle everything down and get back to playing soccer, which is what we're all here to do, and get a nice settled side,” said Yallop. “Landon's playing well and the addition of Robbie Keane was fantastic. They've done a great job here. They're a good side, and for me, David now settling in and going through his last game in MLS, it's been a great story."
Fast forward six years and much has changed for both Beckham and Yallop. Beckham has played a key role in LA’s four consecutive postseason appearances since the 2009 season and will play his final game in Saturday’s MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
After departing the Galaxy, Yallop took over his old post at the San Jose Earthquakes and in 2012, he earned MLS Coach of the Year honors for leading San Jose to the Supporters’ Shield.
On Thursday, Yallop was on hand at The Home Depot Center to honor a key member of that 2012 San Jose team, forward Chris Wondolowski, who was awarded the 2012 MLS Volkswagen Most Valuable Player award. Although the focus centered on Wondolowski’s honor, Yallop admitted that he was pleased with the way that Beckham’s time in the Galaxy will be ending and his role in its infancy
"If you look at before David came, I don't think [MLS] coverage was as big. I don't think the interest from non-soccer people was as high. As soon as he joined, it was a massive spike in everything, from people being interested in knowing the Galaxy brand to filling stadiums to getting people aware of the game,” said Yallop. “Talk about a fantastic move by [AEG president and CEO] Tim Leiweke and the group here, but a brave move from David as well. It was a big move. He was at the top of his game when he came here, and I think that was a brave move. It's worked out well for everybody, and you have to commend him for doing it. I'll never regret coming and being part of that for sure. You live and learn, and maybe that type of thing is not for me, but I really enjoyed my time with the Galaxy and especially with David."
CARSON, Calif. -- With A.J. DeLaGarza still an injury question mark, LA Galaxy rookie Tommy Meyer seems poised to start Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
Meyer has been solid alongside center back Omar Gonzalez in central defense, starting the last nine matches including five MLS Cup Playoffs.
Ahead of Saturday, check out my feature on Meyer's rise from St. Louis youth club star to MLS Cup finalist.
MLS Cup wasn't the only thing going on Thursday.
*The Houston Dynamo arrived in Southern California on Thursday evening. 100 Percent Soccer's Nick Green caught up Houston at their hotel.
Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes was awarded the league's Volkswagen Most Valuable Player after tying Roy Lassiter's all-time single season goal mark of 27. Video of his conversation with MLSsoccer.com is below
Seattle Sounders FC defender Patrick Ianni was awarded Goal of the Year honors. Check out his strike below.
Lastly, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando won the league's Save of the Year honor. Rimando had three saves among the final four.
CARSON, Calif. – Much of the talk on Thursday centered around David Beckham’s departure from MLS, but the fact that MLS Cup 2012 may also be the final match for LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan remained in the minds of many.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week, Donovan stressed his need to evaluate his future during the club’s offseason. On Thursday, Beckham declared that he is hopeful that Donovan will continue to play in 2013 and beyond.
“He’s a special talent in this team and a special talent in this country. And he’s still young. So I personally hope that he doesn't stop playing because I believe that he’s still got a good few years left in him,” said Beckham. “Whether he needs a break, whether he needs to just step away from the game for a while and then come back, but 30 years old is still young.
“I hope he continues,” Beckham added. “Let’s hope this is not his last game and let’s hope that when he spoke about he didn't have the hunger like he used to, let’s hope that was just a moment that he had because from what I've seen when he’s on the training field and on the field the hunger’s still there to me. So I hope a talented player like him continues to play for this club.”
One person who is quick to agree with Beckham is San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. The relationship between Donovan and Yallop dates back to 2001 when the ‘Quakes head coach brought Donovan to San Jose.
Donovan spent another three years with Yallop in San Jose through the 2003 season before joining the Galaxy where he was reunited with his former coach in 2006 as he held the LA post for two seasons. With their extensive history in mind, Yallop offered his full support for his longtime player.
“There’s been no better player in our league that I can think of,” said Yallop. “That will be a shame if he wasn't playing next season, but I think that he just needs to step away and think about everything then decide. I fully support whatever he does because we go way back and he feels like a son to me. I just wish him all the best, whatever he decides to do."
CARSON, Calif. – For the LA Galaxy to win their fourth MLS Cup title, they’ll need another strong game from goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
Throughout the playoffs, Saunders has been quite solid as LA has conceded four goals in five postseason games. Where Saunders has been particularly vital has been his presence in the box and his willingness to grab crosses to end his attack. With the Houston Dynamo particularly skilled at wide play, Saunders’ presence in the box could have a huge impact for LA.
Ahead of his second straight MLS Cup and his third appearance in four years, the Galaxy back stop is ready for the challenge.
“I’m feeling good physically so I’m just approaching the game like every game that we have, I’m trying not to get too caught up in what the game is,” said Saunders. “I had some good preparation this week and I was able to reflect with family last week for Thanksgiving and that was kind of nice so I’m ready for the game.”
On the other side of the field, Saunders and the Galaxy will face a talented Houston club that is supported by talented goalkeeper Tally Hall. The 27-year-old was originally drafted by the Galaxy in 2007, but enjoyed his finest season to date in 2012 as he set a career-high for wins (14) and shutouts (12).
But Saunders is well-aware that Hall isn’t the only weapon that the Dynamo will bring to the table on Saturday.
“[Hall’s] a great goalkeeper, he’s done very well for his team and I expect a good game out of him,” said Saunders. “Will [Bruin] has done very well for himself and they’re a dangerous team going forward, they attack from the width with their outside backs so we have to watch out for that.”
CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham addressed around 125 members of the media on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup 2012, his final match for the LA Galaxy and in Major League Soccer.
“It’s been a quiet week as you can imagine,” Beckham joked when asked about the club’s preparations. “It’s exciting. When we reached MLS Cup Final, there’s an excitement around the team and around the club, so this week has been about preparing for Houston, preparing for the game on Saturday. So it’s been an enjoyable week.”
When asked to reflect upon his six years with the Galaxy as well as the potentially turbulent times, the 37-year-old midfielder admitted that head coach Bruce Arena was vital in bringing stability to his time to the Galaxy.
“The first year, year and a half was kind of very unsettling and it wasn’t a great place to be and then Bruce came in, settled everything down and that’s the reason we’ve had the success that we had in the last four years,” said Beckham. “He’s a great man manager, the way he looks after players, the way he looks after the team, the way he treats the players. He’s strong and harsh when he needs to be, but he also puts his arm around you and has a joke with you when you need that and I think that’s important with management. I owe a lot to Bruce and his staff because the work that they’ve done has been incredible and it’s been an honor working with him for the last four years.”
The Galaxy midfielder also addressed a series of questions on his post-Galaxy future, but Beckham echoed his comments from a week earlier stating that he has many “interesting and exciting opportunities” on the table. Beckham was quick to shoot down a rumor that arose through the BBC linking him with French club AS Monaco. However, he did admit that the reported interest from many distinguished coaches was flattering.
“I heard the Monaco thing on the way to training this morning from a friend in London who said ‘I hear you’re going to Monaco,’” said Beckham. “So that was the first I’ve heard of that. Like I said, I’ve very flattered by some of the interest that I’ve had, and some serious interest that I’ve had.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by managers and good managers and the fact that I’ve still got managers like [Paris Saint-Germain] Carlo Ancelotti and [Queens Park Rangers manager] Harry Redknapp and [West Ham United manager] Sam Allardyce, managers like this are coming out saying they’d love me to play and they know how professional I am that means a lot to me,” added Beckham. “That’s what I’ve tried to base my career around, my whole career around over the years, being a professional and working hard and it’s nice to be recognized like that.”
Beckham did bat away one pesky rumor that has been linking him to the bid for a second team in New York and the New York Cosmos organization.
“I’ve been hearing the Cosmos thing for the last two or three years and no, that’s not true,” said Beckham. “My manager has definitely not had a conversation on that side so that’s definitely not true.”
A possible ownership move for Beckham has been at the forefront as of late and the midfielder reiterated that interest on Tuesday.
“Obviously now I’m finishing playing over the weekend, the ownership part comes into play and it’s something that I’m excited about,” said Beckham. “It’s something that again I think proves my commitment to the league and to whatever club I become part-owner or owner of. I’m excited about that. I’ll always be committed to the Galaxy in some way because I’ve been here six years and it’s like Manchester United, like Real Madrid it becomes a home for me.”
Although his time in MLS is nearing the end, Beckham has a few words for any players that are interested in coming to the Galaxy or MLS.
“My pitch is simple: if you want to be a part of something that is going to be big. Because when Tim Leiweke came to me six years ago in my house, that’s exactly what he said to me,” said Beckham. “He said ‘soccer’s not one of the biggest sports in the U.S., but one day it will be.’ And I believed him. It’s something that when I first came over here I committed to this league, I committed to this team and I committed to growing this league.
“Just because I’m not playing here anymore after the weekend, my commitment stays the same. And I will do anything to keep these players coming over like Robbie Keane, like Thierry Henry, and anything I can do on that side of things I want to do. Because I want to see this league continue to grow. I think and I know it’s the number one sport in the World, there’s other great sports here of course, but I believe that it can compete with basketball, I believe it can compete with American football and baseball. So that’s why I’m totally committed to that.”
CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham's reputation for clinical set pieces may be well-renown, but Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis has shown that he is every bit of Beckham's peer.
While Beckham's right-footed is well-known throughout the world, Davis' left-foot has been key to Houston's back-to-back MLS Cup appearances. During the past two weeks ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup, the Galaxy have used Beckham to prepare for Davis' penchant for deadly free kicks.
After Davis missed out on MLS Cup 2011 due to a right quadriceps injury, Beckham is eager to face off against the Houston midfielder.
'I was sad for Brad that he missed out on the final last year, he was a player that had an exceptional season and unfortunately, won the assists [title] just in front of me. He's a great player and a great guy as well, it's great to see him fully fit, it's great to see him playing this weekend," said Beckham. "I hope that he doesn't play well to be honest, but I know that he's a great player and he's got a great left foot. He can deliver balls anywhere that he wants to and he's a player that you try to do your homework on, but sometimes when players are that good, you just have to be on it on the day and on him on the day. It's as simple as that."
David Beckham's 27 minute press conference was full of quips, but no moment was funnier than his laugh with a reporter who's phone rang durnig the presser
Check it out below.
It's been months since the last meeting between the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo, but it is worth looking back on that match.
The Dynamo erased an early deficit to beat the Galaxy 2-1 on May 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Edson Buddle scored the opener for the Galaxy, who were without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, but a Mike Magee own-goal and an Andre Hainault header gave Houston the win on a scorching day in Houston.
Below are the highlights -- and the lowlights -- of that match...
The LA Galaxy took a moment from their MLS Cup preparations on Wednesday to visit the Carson Boys and Girls Club. The event, which featured a refurbished learning center and new sports court for the complex was due to a partnership between AEG, the LA Galaxy Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative.
Below are a few select photos from the event...
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) November 28, 2012
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) November 29, 2012
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) November 28, 2012
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) November 28, 2012