LIVE: LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo – follow David Beckham's US farewell in the MLS Cup final
22:18 GMT, 1 December 2012
Tonight David Beckham plays his final match for Los Angeles Galaxy before leaving for one last challenge in football. Sportsmail will bring you all the latest news from the Home Depot Center as Beckham aims to leave on a high by defending the MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo.
18min Great chance! Beckham with a peach of a free-kick from the right and Mike Magee, five yards out, really should have found the net with a diving header.
Seconds later, Wilhelmsson appealing vocally for a penalty after racing clear. No chance, replied the referee.
16min Chance up the other end for Calen Carr who audaciously tries to flick the ball in from a left-wing cross. But he's a long way out and it sails comfortably over the bar.
14min A little delay while Houston's Brad Davis received attention from the physio. Becks really finding his range now, locating Wilhelmsson with a lovely ball out wide.
Update from our man in LA:
'Almost 15 minutes gone and Galaxy should be ahead. Beckham’s raking pass from his own half set Robbie Keane clear down the left. Keane did the right thing and squared the ball to Landon Donovan, who only had to slide it in to the net from ten yards. He didn’t. He side-footed it wide. I would have scored. Really, I would.'
12min What a chance missed by the Galaxy! Beckham, glorious 60-yard diagonal ball to Keane who sprints forward and puts it on a plate for Donovan. But, with the whole stadium ready to erupt, he slips it wide of the post. Very out of character for the former Everton man to miss that.
10min The Galaxy are enjoying the majority of possession now and feeling their way into the game. The Home Depot Center has a weird grassy area above one of the stands which is sparsely populated compared to the sold-out stands elsewhere.
7min First involvement for Robbie Keane, whose persistence created a half-chance for Landon Donovan, whose shot dribbles harmlessly to the goalkeeper.
Landon going for his fifth MLS title today.
5min Quick thinking from Beckham, who lofts a free-kick into the path of Christian Wilhelmsson. The ball skips away off the turf and into the hands of Hall.
4min it's been a nervy start for Saunders in net for the Galaxy, flapping at a couple of crosses. Ian Ladyman writes:
'We are underway at the Home Depot Center and Beckham is
sporting the most wonderful pair of pink boots. Just in case he is hard to pick
out. His first touch saw him dumped on his backside while it’s Houston who had
the first chance, midfielder Ricardo Clark – yes, the Ricardo Clark – seeing
his angles shot beaten away by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. The Houston
goalie, by the way, is called Tally Hall. I don’t know why I find that amusing,
I just do.'
1min First involvement for Beckham and he's brought down just inside the Houston half – nothing given.
Strong start from the Dynamo, with Ricardo Clark stinging the palms of LA Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders.
21.57 HOUSTON GET THE 2012 MLS CUP FINAL UNDERWAY
21.54 The commentators are discussing how this could also be Landon Donovan's farewell. But he's only 30, seven years younger than Beckham. If it is to be the case, his departure is likely to be part of a massive Galaxy post-season shake-up. There is speculation that Kaka is on his way over from Real Madrid and maybe even Frank Lampard from Chelsea.
21.52 Understandably given how they outnumber their visitors, the Galaxy fans can be heard loudest. They'll want to see one of these tonight:
21.49 There seems to be a whole legion of young mascots – each of the Galaxy players seems to have three each! No sightings of Victoria and the kids yet…
21.47 Here we go! The two teams are walking out, passing in front of the Galaxy fans behind one of the goals. Dramatic music sets the tone. Fireworks fizz into the sky from colourful flags.
Houston looking very Blackpool-like in their tangerine kits, while the Galaxy are in their traditional all-white.
21.46 Ian Ladyman updates us as we move closer to kick-off:
'It’s almost time for the teams to emerge here. The rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Maybe it is to be a golden farewell for Beckham, after all. Home advantage looks like being significant for Galaxy. The Houston fans are located in one tiny corner of the stadium and there only looks to be about 1500 or so of them. Welcome to a cup final the American way.'
Abide With Me, anyone
21.44 Here's a couple more homemade Beckham tribute efforts..
Nice one Dav… A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt
21.40 Twenty minutes until the big kick-off and the stadium is almost full. Even the sun has come out, which will please Ian Ladyman. The home Ultras can be heard getting the atmosphere started.
21.37 This is Tinseltown, so there's bound to be a bit of celebrity interest. Here's actor Gerard Butler being shown to his seat (look how happy he looks):
21.33 And here, ladies and gentlemen, are your team line-ups:
LA Galaxy: (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Gonzalez, Meyer, Franklin, Magee, Juninho, Beckham, Wilhelmsson, Keane, Donovan
Subs: DeLagarza, Gaul, Noonan, Stephens, Sarvas, Perk, Buddle
Houston Dynamo: (4-4-2) Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Boswell, Sarkodie, Moffat, Clark, Davis, Garcia, Bruin, Carr
Subs: Weaver, Ching, Hainault, Kandji, Camargo, Deric, Barnes
21.32 Here's your stat pack for the match:
- This final sees two of the most successful MLS teams against each other – The Galaxy are competing in their eighth final and chasing a fourth win, which could match DC United for the most wins. The Dynamo are playing in the final for the fourth time in the seven year history of their franchise, having won it in 2006 and 2007.
- In the team's single meeting this season, on May 26, Houston won 2-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium – Edson Buddle gave the Galaxy a tenth minute lead but an own goal from Mike Magee levelled the scores and Andre Hainault grabbed the winner after 57 minutes.
- This final is the meeting of the lowest combined seeds ever to reach the championship match – Galaxy finished fourth in the Western division, Houston were fifth in the Eastern.
- Their regular season head-to-head record is very close – Each has six wins apiece with four draws. The goals have been scored 19-18 in Houston's favour
- Houston will be looking to end a Western dominance in the competition, with nine of the last eleven finals going West.
21.23 But, of course, there are 21 other players on the field tonight, including Team USA's greatest ever forward Landon Donovan and another familiar name Robbie Keane, who has been in outstanding form.
Houston, meanwhile, have Glaswegian Adam Moffat in midfield, formerly of Ross County and Elgin City, and Ricardo Clark, whom you might recall from the 2010 World Cup.
Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight
21.15 It may be all banners and tributes tonight, but remember that it wasn't so long ago that Beckham was being criticised by fans and teammates alike for being over-papped, over-paid and over here.
But he's slowly won them over, scoring 20 goals in his 116 LA Galaxy appearances over the last six years and helping them to three MLS Cup finals.
21.13 There's some history here… In fact, tonight's match is a rerun of last year's MLS Cup final, also played at the Home Depot. Here's a reminder of how that went:
21.09 But while most of us are hoping for a fantasy farewell for Beckham as he packs he bags for the south of France or wherever else he's wanted, this game isn't going to be easy.
The Galaxy have certainly struck form at the right time – after scraping into the play-offs following a fourth place finish in the Western Conference, they have overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders to make the final.
Meanwhile, Houston finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, meaning they had to overcome Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls and DC United to get this far.
21.05 The man of the moment has arrived, looking debonair as usual in his LA Galaxy suit. Meanwhile, all around the Home Depot, which is of course the home of the Galaxy, the supporters have prepared their own tributes.
Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy
Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero
21.02 Manchester to Madrid to Los Angeles (via short stop-offs in Preston and Milan)… That has been the career path of David Beckham over the past two decades.
Who knows what the future may hold – the man himself doesn't, as Ian Ladyman found out when he caught up with Becks at Galaxy training this week.
And our man in California has this to start setting the scene:
'It’s all rather ‘Manchester’ here in Los Angeles as kick-off approaches. The sun did show its face over Venice Beach this morning but it’s raining here in Carson as the supporters start to gather inside Home Depot. They are expecting a full-house of just over 30,000 and have even erected some temporary seating to squeeze a few more in. We hope it’s going to be worth it.'
21.00 The latest chapter in the tale of David Beckham has almost been written – but just one blank page remains.
Will it be the fairytale finale to his American adventure or a crushing disappointment that forces him to eek another few years out of those golden legs
A warm welcome to our coverage of the 2012 MLS Cup final between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo – Beckham's farewell appearance.
Kick-off is fast approaching and you won't miss a moment here with us.
Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time