It seems like ages ago, but in reality it was only four months ago that David Beckham got booed and heckled by the LA Galaxy fans upon his return from his loan to Milan.
There was no such jeering on Friday night in Los Angeles.
The Englishman delivered for his MLS Club in the 103rd minute, sending a free kick from nearly 40 yards out to the six-yard line, where it bounced off three players before Gregg Berhalter blasted it into the back of the net.
The other star in LA’s galaxy, Landon Donovan, added an insurance score on a PK in the 109th minute, allowing LA to reach MLS Cup with a 2-0 overtime win against the Houston Dynamo.
The game itself was not worthy of a Conference Final. The lack of rythm for either side was exasperated by two 18-minute power outages at Home Depot Center during the match. (A Southern California Edison power dip was to blame, according to a team spokesman.)
The Dynamo had a steller opportunity in the 79th minute, when Brian Ching got a powerful header on goal off a cross, but LA keeper Donovan Ricketts got just enough mitt on the ball to redirect it into the crossbar.
An ensuing corner kick was netted by Houston, but negated by a penalty in the box as the players jostled for postion on the ball.
The penalties would be the demise of the Dynamo season. The foul that resulted in taking what would have been the only score of regulation off the board was one of aggression.
However, the foul that set up Beckham’s long range chance was a chippy one by Ricardo Clark that could have – should have – been avoided.
With the win, the Galaxy advance and await either the Cinderella side from Real Salt Lake or the home team for Saturday’s Eastern Conference final, the Chicago Fire.