• Wednesday Nov 21, 2012

    Beckham to leave LA Galaxy

    CARSON, California - If the LA Galaxy is going to win the CONCACAF Champions League, they will have to do it without David Beckham.

    The 37-year-old former England international announced late Monday that he will leave the Galaxy following the MLS Cup final on December 1 against the Houston Dynamo, ending his six-year stay with the Major League Soccer club.

    "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 in a stament released by the team. "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 will depart the club after winning at least one MLS title, reaching the MLS Cup final three times and the Champions League quarterfinals in each of the past two seasons.

    He was the first man signed under MLS' "designated-player rule" - also known as the "David Beckham rule -- that enabled clubs to acquire high-profile athletes that otherwise would exceed the league's relatively restrictive salary cap.

    Beckham's arrival has been credited by officials and pundits as raising the profile of MLS, enabling it to attract other well-known players such as Thierry Henry of France, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rafael Marquez of Mexico, Juan Pablo Angel of Colombia, Torsten Frings of Germany, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto of Argentina.

    "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 Galaxy club owner AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). "It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours."

    The three-time World Cup veteran scored 18 goals in 98 MLS games with the Galaxy, not including playoffs. He has been linked in media reports with moves to clubs in Europe, South America and Australia, although his representatives issued a firm statement last week that rejected the claim.

    The announcement comes following comments Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan in the past month that raised questions about the American international possibly stepping away from the game.

    After the MLS Cup final, the Galaxy is scheduled to play Herediano of Costa Rica in the Champions League quarterfinals in March.

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