David Beckham announced Monday that the MLS Cup on December 1st will be his final game with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham did not announce his future plans but he has been linked to multiple clubs around the world over the years. His most recent contract with Major League Soccer included a clause allowing him to become part of an expansion team ownership group, which he still plans on taking advantage of after his playing career.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career," Beckham said. "I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future."
Beckham signed a two-year contract extension in January with the Galaxy after his original five-year, $32.5 million contract with the team expired.
During Beckham's six seasons with the Galaxy, he helped lead the club to three MLS Cup berths, including the third championship in club history in 2011 when they beat the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, at The Home Depot Center. The two teams will again meet for the MLS Cup on Dec. 1, with Beckham hoping to end his MLS career and time in Los Angeles with one more title.
"Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport and David not only took our franchise to another level but he took our sport to another level," said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy. "It has been an honour and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours."
Since Beckham signed with the Galaxy on January 2007, seven expansion teams -- Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Jose and Toronto -- have debuted in Major League Soccer while 15 of the league's 19 teams now play in soccer specific stadiums, up from five prior to 2007.
Attendance at those stadiums are at unprecedented highs with an average of 18,807 fans attending games during the 2012 MLS regular season and nearly 22,000 fans turning out per game in the postseason.
"When David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007, he set out to help grow MLS and the sport of soccer in North America," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived. David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the LA Galaxy and the League."
In his six seasons with the Galaxy, Beckham appeared in 98 regular season games, tallying 18 goals and adding 40 assists, good for the fourth most in club history. Beckham has also started in all 16 playoff games that the Galaxy have played since 2009. In that time, he has recorded eight assists, which are the third most in club history. He set an MLS record by becoming the first player ever to register an assist in five consecutive postseason games, including one in all four of the Galaxy's games during their run to the 2011 MLS Cup championship.
Beckham, a veteran of three World Cups and the most capped field player in England history, made worldwide news when he decided to sign with the Galaxy nearly six years ago. As one of the most popular athletes in the world and a star player for Manchester United and Real Madrid, Beckham's signing opened the doors for many other international stars to join Major League Soccer. Since 2007, MLS clubs have signed the likes of Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Juan Pablo Angel and Beckham's teammate with the Galaxy, Robbie Keane.
"In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year," Beckham said. "I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in L.A. and across the States. Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country and I want to always be part of growing it."