David Beckham was left to rue another penalty shoot-out loss as the Los Angeles Galaxy were denied a Major League Soccer title when Real Salt Lake took the MLS Cup at Qwest Field.
With the game deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time, Beckham converted the first spot-kick of the shoot-out in front of 46,011 fans but as it went into sudden death, a miss from striker Edson Buddle left Salt Lake defender Robbie Russell to convert for a 5-4 victory and give the club their first title in only their fourth season as an MLS team.
Beckham has been in three England teams knocked out of major tournaments after shoot-outs, by Argentina in the 1998 World Cup when he had earlier been sent off, and twice by Portugal, the then England captain having missed from the spot at Euro 2004 before watching from the sidelines at the 2006 World Cup.
"It's always tough losing, whether you lose on penalties or in normal play but we can be proud of where we've come to," Beckham said.
"I wouldn't say it's tougher to lose on penalties but it's Russian roulette, it's not a nice way to lose but that's the way it is.
"The people that step up are brave enough to step up and if you score, great, and if you miss it's hard to take.
"Josh (Saunders) did great to make those saves, he's a great goalkeeper, it just wasn't our night."
Salt Lake, who lost more games than they won in the regular season before reaching the play-offs as a wild card, made the brighter start to the final on the artificial FieldTurf surface as Beckham shook off an ankle injury with three pain-killing injections to start the game.
"I had three injections in my ankle and it wore off after about 15 minutes," he said. "I knew it would be like that going into the game and of course it got worse and worse during the game but that's what happens when you've got an injury like that."
Despite that, Beckham had a part in the Galaxy goal in the 41st minute. Thirty yards out, he fed Landon Donovan outside him on the right and the LA captain sent over a cross to the back post which Mike Magee met and slotted home first time to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead that they held until the 64th minute.
Leading scorer Robbie Findley pulled his team level after Kyle Beckerman put the ball into the box. Two shots were blocked by Galaxy defenders before it fell to Findley who fired home from the corner of the six-yard box.
Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts was substituted straight after conceding the equaliser, the former Bolton and Bradford man's right hand having been injured earlier in the half with Saunders replacing him in goal.
Even seven minutes of added time could not break the deadlock, however, and the game moved into extra time.
"I think we controlled the first half and then, naturally, they came out in the second half, 1-0 down and pushed us a little bit," Beckham said.
"They kept control of the ball, had their chances and we had a couple of chances but neither team could break each other down."