David Beckham to leave LA Galaxy after MLS Cup 2012

Stephen Dunn

The 2012 MLS Cup will be David Beckham's final match with the LA Galaxy. There is no word on what he will do next.

David Beckham's LA Galaxy career will come to a close after MLS Cup. The English legend announced that he will leave the club after the match on December 1, although he did not say what he would do next. He has an option to buy a MLS club and become an owner, but he is a few years away from exercising that option and will look to continue playing elsewhere.

"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."

Recently, Beckham was linked to a move to Australia's A-League, although most dismissed that as rumor. However, this announcement may make that possibility a little more realistic. Beckham could also stay in MLS, as the release does not say he will leave the league, and his affection for New York is not a secret. A slew of teams around the world will surely be interested in his services, as much for his marketing potential as for the 37-year-old's play.

Beckham joined the Galaxy in 2007 after becoming a superstar and world icon with Manchester United and then four years with Real Madrid. He then made a much publicized move to LA, although his early years with the Galaxy were marred by injuries, losses and questions about his commitment to the club as he spent parts of seasons on loan with AC Milan.

Everything changed with the arrival of Bruce Arena, though, who helped build a phenomenal club around Beckham and Landon Donovan. The Galaxy went to MLS Cup in 2009 and while they did lose, they returned last year and captured MLS's most prestigious trophy. LA is back in the final again this year, where they will play the Houston Dynamo with a chance at back-to-back titles.

Beckham's impact on LA and MLS goes well beyond any success on the field, too. He helped bring unprecedented exposure to the league and early on, brought massive crowds. Nobody would cite him as the only reason for the league's growth in recent years because there are a lot of factors, but he certainly played a role in the league's expansion, much improved attendance and growing TV rights deals that have made MLS miles better than it was in 2007.

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