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David Beckham could accomplish a lot by adding an MLS Cup to his resume

SOCCER

The English star, saddled with great expectations and criticism, has a chance to add U.S. title to cap his stellar career. The Galaxy needs only a tie against Seattle in semifinal elimination rematch.

November 02, 2010|By Kevin Baxter

Beckham's focus now is on delaying the off-season. The home-and-home playoff series with Seattle will be decided on aggregate goals. With the Galaxy leading, 1-0, it needs only a tie Sunday to advance to the Western Conference championship against the winner of the FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake series.

A win there would return Beckham to the MLS Cup final, giving him another chance to silence his critics and join Trevor Steven as the only English players to win domestic titles in three different countries.

"There's always a satisfaction when you prove people wrong," Beckham says. "I've been able to do that over the years. Yeah it was great winning FA Cups, Champions League, playing in World Cups, winning [Spanish] La Liga. But now I'm playing in a MLS team and the MLS Cup is the biggest thing in soccer in this country. So it's an exciting prospect."

So is the possibility of more international stars following Beckham to MLS. And that, more than any titles he wins, could be Beckham's legacy in U.S. soccer.

"It used to be we had to go chase [European players]. We've had a lot of people that are interested in coming now," says Tim Leiweke, president and chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the investor-operators of the Galaxy.

Henry, for example, didn't commit to the league until after talking with Beckham, Leiweke says.

"David is a great ambassador," Leiweke says. "But he's more than a just an ambassador. He can still play."

Although there were times when Beckham appeared to prefer Europe over L.A., he now says he'd like to make California his family's home even when his playing days are over.

"Our boys go to school here. They're happy here," says Beckham, the father of three children, ages 5 to 11. "As long as they continue to be happy here, my wife's happy here, then we plan on staying."

He's even considering U.S. citizenship.

"I hope so, one day. It would be nice," he says. "I'm English born and bred. And that's the way I'll always be. I'm an Englishman, you know."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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