CARSON -- A memorable chapter in American soccer reached a climactic conclusion Saturday on a gloomy day when Englishman David Beckham played for the final time in a Galaxy uniform.
It wasn't a cameo appearance by the strikingly handsome soccer star who arguably has had as much impact on U.S. soccer as anyone.
Beckham, 37, helped lead the Galaxy to its second consecutive MLS Cup title with a commanding 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in front of more than 30,000 adoring fans at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
The day unfolded with a teary Hollywood ending as Los Angeles played in its third championship in four years. Beckham is moving on after exposing thousands of Americans to his beloved game.
He didn't offer any hints about where he might land, but speculation is Beckham will play in Australia, China or Europe.
It didn't matter Saturday for the English midfielder whose pinpoint passing inspired the movie "Bend It Like Beckham." He went out a winner yet again, leaving the field wearing an American and English flag in a symbolic gesture that underscored how much he loved his adopted country. As Beckham did for famed clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid, he won a crown in his final game.
"It never gets old," he said. "Today was going to be an emotional day win or lose."
Los Angeles finished fourth in the Western Division because of a horrible start in the spring. But the Galaxy rebounded by summer and became the
Landon Donovan credited Beckham for changing the Galaxy's demeanor in July when Los Angeles dominated Major League Soccer.
In a game featuring the 2011 finalists, the Galaxy again left Houston disappointed. This year, the orange-and-white clad Dynamo played the role of ushers in Beckham's farewell.
Former Cal star Calen Carr easily beat his one-time Golden Bears teammate Josh Saunders for a 1-0 lead just before halftime as Houston took an early lead.
But the momentum shifted to the home team once the second half began. Cup MVP Omar Gonzalez scored the equalizer in the 61st minute on a precision header past goalkeeper Tally Hall. From there, the Galaxy and Beckham dominated.
The game-winner came on Donovan's penalty kick for a 2-1 lead after a Ricardo Clark's handball in the 66th minute. Donovan, a former Earthquakes star, has a record five goals in MLS championships.
Irish star Robbie Keane made a penalty kick goal in extra time for the exclamation point.
Beckham had a chance to add to the fairy-tale finish when teammates suggested he take the final penalty kick. The Englishman declined, later saying it was more important to win the game than for any final individual flourish.
Still, the cheers and groans reverberating throughout the sold-out stadium were as much of a celebration of Beckham's last effort as another L.A. championship.
"Anyone associated with the MLS owes him a debt of gratitude," Earthquakes general manager John Doyle said. "He had a big impact on everything, the profile of the league, the amount of people that wanted to see him play."
Beckham left Real Madrid in 2007 to sign a $32.5 million, five-year deal with the Galaxy. He came to conquer America with pop star wife Victoria of Spice Girls fame.
From working as an underwear model to power dinners with Hollywood's elite, Beckham became a big part of the L.A. landscape.
"I don't think anybody would doubt that he has over-delivered on every one of those measures," MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
The league's regular season attendance average increased from 15,504 in 2006 to a record 18,807 this year.