Salt Lake dashes Beckham's title dream

Nearly, but not quite; David Beckham came within a couple of misplaced spot-kicks of being able to lift transatlantic football’s highest honour last night, when his Los Angeles Galaxy were defeated by Real Salt Lake after extra time in the final of the MLS Cup.

The prospect of Beckham and his popular attacking partner, Landon Donovan, lifting the comically-named Philip Anschutz trophy on a lively night in Seattle would have represented a dream-come-true for Major League Soccer’s financial backers. But they fell tantalisingly short, going down 5-4 in sudden death penalties.

Salt Lake’s goalkeeper, Nick Rimando, made two saves from unconvincing Galaxy efforts, and saw a crucial effort from Donovan balloon over the bar in the shoot-out, which wasn’t settled until the seventh pair of kicks. The game had finished 1-1 in normal time, and an extra thirty minutes failed to produce any goals.

A crowd of more than 40,000, one of the biggest in the history of MLS finals, had expected to see Los Angeles ease to victory over an unglamorous Salt Lake team who lost more games than they’d won during the regular season, and boast a combined income that amounts to a quarter of Beckham’s $5.5m [£3.4m] basic salary.

The Galaxy duly controlled the first half, on an artificial pitch made slick by heavy rain, and went ahead on 41 minutes when Beckham put Donovan free on the right-hand edge of the area, and watched him swing a pinpoint cross onto the right foot of Mike Magee, at the far post.

They failed to put their scrappy opponents away, though, and got their comeuppance on 64 minutes when Salt Lake’s Robbie Findley, who posed a threat all night, was the beneficiary of a lucky deflection in a crowded penalty area, and blasted home a short-range equaliser.

After that, Salt Lake grew in stature, and began to control possession. They had the better of the late chances, hitting the side netting twice. Their striker Andy Williams, came within a misjudged first touch of getting a winner in the final minute of extra time. Yura Movsysian also missed a one-on-ione chance late on.

Galaxy, by contrast, began to defend too deeply, and relied on swift counter-attacking moves for the best of their chances. Most expensively, they allowed Salt Lake’s goalkeeper to control the tempo of the penalty shoot-out.

It was a frustrating end to a topsy-turvy season for Beckham, who began the year by disappearing to Milan for several months in order to increase his chances of an England slot. His return, half way through the MLS fixture list, had met with boos and chants of “fraud” from the terraces, together with a public altercation with a Galaxy fan.

After that wobbly start, however, the 34-year-old worked hard to regain the affections of supporters, and helped drag the team emerge from mid-table obscurity to win eight and draw four of their 15 competitive fixtures, finishing on top of the MLS’s Western Division.

They eased confidently past their first two opponents in the post-season playoffs, a knock-out tournament involving MLS’s top eight sides. Although Beckham seems occasionally short of pace, and was using an asthma inhaler periodically during the later stages of last night’s game, he remains dangerous from a dead-ball situation, scored his shootout penalty well, and caused consistent problems from corners.

He will be going back to Milan this winter, on a similar loan deal to last year, and hopes to also have a role in England’s plans at next summer’s World Cup in Paris. However in his post-match press conference, he gamely promised US journalists: “I’ll be back next year to win the trophy.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower