CARSON, Calif. — When David Beckham came to the LA Galaxy in July 2007, hopes were high that the franchise would quickly return to their winning ways.
Things didn’t quite work out that way. Both 2007 and 2008 were lean years as the Galaxy ran their streak of consecutive playoff-free seasons to three.
But 2009 saw the team go to the MLS Cup final, and on Sunday Beckham will look to guide the Galaxy to a second in as many seasons when they host FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship (8 pm CT, ESPN2/Deportes).
Did Beckham expect success sooner than it’s taken?
“I expected it to take longer, to be honest,” he said. “The first couple of years were difficult, because we obviously didn’t reach the playoffs. The last couple of years have been great. We’ve had exciting soccer played and we’ve reached the playoffs, which is important for this franchise. So personally, I’m happy with the way it’s gone the last couple of years.”
After winning MLS Cup ’05, the Galaxy went into a bit of a tailspin. In 2006, LA missed the playoffs for the first time in club history. Beckham joined the club in the middle of 2007 but injuries kept him from playing all but five league games.
[inline_node:322840]Beckham racked up five goals and 10 assists in 2008 but after a strong start to the season, the Galaxy fell apart and the club changed coaches for the third time in three years.
But that was the turning point in Beckham’s Galaxy career.
“The last two years have been a lot better than the first year or two," he said. "That’s helped with Bruce [Arena] coming in and the stability he’s brought and keeping the same manager. To have a successful team you have to have stability and we’ve definitely had that the last two seasons.”
Arena made a slew of changes ahead of the 2009 season and the team struggled coming out of the blocks. But the Galaxy recovered to finish atop the Western Conference standings and reached the MLS Cup final, which they lost in penalties to Real Salt Lake.
But for Beckham, that loss is in the past. What matters now is winning and getting back to the top.
“I’m always driven to be successful and always driven to win," he said. "Having the injury was a disappointment to myself. My drive has never been an issue. I’ve always wanted success. I’m 35 years old now and I still want it as much as I did when I was 18, 19.”