"It's only the last year or two that I started to understand the playoff system, to be honest," Beckham said with a grin. "It's something I've got used to now. We've had success in the last three years, but we want the big one. We want the MLS Cup."
For the second straight season, the star-studded Galaxy won the Supporters' Shield as MLS's best regular-season team. Los Angeles then rolled to three straight playoff victories, and now they're favored in the MLS Cup against the resilient Houston Dynamo, who had two wins over the Union in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but must play without injured star Brad Davis.
The neutral-site game, serendipitously, will be played at Home Depot Center, the Galaxy's home field south of downtown Los Angeles. Although the Dynamo are eminently capable of ruining the Galaxy's special day, the stage is set perfectly for Beckham's coronation.
"I felt I'd achieved all I could achieve in Europe, and I wanted another challenge," said Beckham, who finished second in MLS with 15 assists this season before providing similar service in every playoff game.
A big finish might only be the setup for a sequel for Beckham, who says he'll decide after the season where he'll play next year. While Paris Saint-Germain and a few British clubs are interested, the Galaxy are eager to retain him.
Donovan's determination to win a title also is compelling. The U.S. national team's career scoring leader skipped exhibition matches against France and Slovenia in the past two weeks to stay focused on the Galaxy's finale.
Either Los Angels' Bruce Arena or the Houston's Dominic Kinnear will become the first MLS coach to win three titles.