CARSON -- When it was over, the first thing David Beckham did was look for his kids.
As fans chanted “We want Beckham!” and “Come back, David!” Beckham went searching for his sons Brooklyn, 12, Romeo, 9, and Cruz, 6, after the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 to win the MLS Cup on Sunday night at Home Depot Center.
He waved the boys over to join him on stage for the trophy presentation, put his arms around them and jumped up and down with them after the Galaxy was presented with the Philip F. Anschutz trophy.
Beckham will decide next month whether Sunday was indeed his final game with the Galaxy after signing a five-year deal in 2007, and the three boys he put championship scarves around after the game will have as much to do with the decision as anyone else.
He continually looked at them during the celebration to make sure they were savoring every moment. He has won his fair share of trophies during his career, but at 36 years old, regardless of where he is next year, he understands that these moments will soon end.
The last time he won a championship was with Real Madrid in 2007, which turned out to be his last season in Spain, and the last time he won before that was with Manchester United in 2003, which turned out to be his last season in England. Winning the championship in the last year of his contract with the Galaxy would be a perfect way to finish his time in the States, but that decision will not be made by Beckham alone.
He admits he will make his decision in the coming days after talking with his family. His sons were too young to remember Beckham’s title with Manchester United and still coming of age when he won with Real Madrid. Their formative years have been spent growing up in the United States. His infant daughter Harper was born in Los Angeles and his wife Victoria has a clothing line in the city.
“These are life-changing moments,” Beckham said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have children at a very young age, so Brooklyn, my oldest, has experienced being on the turf at Old Trafford and seeing me pick the Premiership [trophy] up, and all three of them were on the pitch at Real Madrid and all three of them were there tonight. These are great memories. I want my children to be a part of that. My little girl is a little too young for that but she was there with my wife.”
Beckham has heard the question about his future so many times at this point, his response is as automatic and predictable as the ball bending sharply left off his right foot on a set piece.
He says he doesn’t know what the future will hold, and he isn’t being coy when he says that. His focus has been on finally winning a championship in the States before thinking about next year, and he was still unsure of his future plans moments after the game.
“I need to sit back and relax and enjoy this moment and decide what I’m going to do,” Beckham said. “I might talk in the past tense every now and again but that doesn’t mean I’m not coming back. At the end of the day I need to decide what’s best for me, what’s best for the team and what’s best for my family. We’ll see. It’s been an amazing five years.”
Beckham’s availability in the game was almost in doubt after he pulled his hamstring in training Tuesday and came down with a cold Wednesday. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena would only say that Beckham had a cold as he was held out from practices, but most knew Beckham was hurt as he walked around gingerly during appearances leading up to the game.
“David’s a champion,” Arena said. “I’ve been around great athletes and competitors in my life in different sports and this guy is as good as it comes. He has an unbelievable desire to win. He’s done it all now in every country he’s been in. What more can you say about a guy like this and what he’s brought to this organization and this league in five years?”
Beckham’s injury was hardly apparent during the game as he set up his teammates for numerous failed scoring chances before finally heading the ball to a streaking Robbie Keane who found Landon Donovan, who put away the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute.
“During the match I had a little bit of discomfort, but I had a bit of champagne and a bit of beer and I can’t really feel it anymore,” Beckham said with a smile after the game. “It’s going to be a good night.”
In fact, Beckham said it was going to be “a good night” a handful of times during the postgame news conference before Donovan interrupted him and said, “You sound pretty excited about tonight.”
“I’m so excited,” Beckham said. “I’ve got school drop-off at 8 o’clock tomorrow.”
“You’ll get in by 8,” Arena said.
“We’ll see,” Beckham said.
The same could be said about Beckham’s future in the United States and with the Galaxy, but if his family and his kids have the final say-so, it seems Beckham will likely be back next year.
“Living in L.A. and in California has been a dream for us as a family,” Beckham said. “It’s been exceptional since the day we’ve arrived and nothing has changed. I’m looking forward to the future here. It’s a great place to live and a great place to bring up my children.”
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.