Redskins

Beckham bows out in LA-Houston rematch for MLS Cup

Beckham bows out in LA-Houston rematch for MLS Cup

CARSON, Calif. (AP) David Beckham wraps up his six seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday in the MLS Cup.

He just hopes fans realize they'll miss an excellent game if all eyes are focused only on him.

Los Angeles goes after its second straight MLS title in a rematch with the Houston Dynamo, who lost 1-0 to the Galaxy last season at Home Depot Center. The field was soaked with rain last year, and it's likely to be soggy again this weekend.

They're perfect conditions for the Galaxy's attempt at replicating last season's result in a watershed game for their franchise and MLS, which is losing Beckham's magnetic appeal after a half-decade of impressive league-wide growth.

``I know I'm quite an emotional person,'' Beckham said. ``I'm just really excited about the game, to be in a third MLS Cup final, especially the second one that's being played in our own stadium. It's going to be special. ... I'm happy the team are in the position we are, and the reason we've done well this season is because we're a complete team. We've got character.''

Los Angeles' late-season run to another championship game has carried a certain sense of destiny for a franchise that's in for big changes in the offseason. Beckham could be joined in departure by U.S. star Landon Donovan, who's thinking about walking away from the Galaxy in an apparent mid-career case of burnout.

Even if the Galaxy's core is breaking up, they're eager to go out with the franchise's fourth MLS Cup, tying D.C. United's league record.

``It's been quite a ride, and with one more win, it will all be worth it,'' said Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez, who also might leave in the offseason. ``We're similar to last year, but they're a totally different team. They're going to be tough.''

All that uncertainty will be discarded for at least 90 minutes when the eighth-seeded Galaxy host ninth-seeded Houston in an unlikely final between veteran teams that gathered momentum at the perfect time, barreling through the playoffs with style after barely making the postseason.

``We've got two good attacking teams, and I expect some goals this year,'' said Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena, who could win his fourth MLS title. ``Last year's final, poor weather conditions were a factor. This year should make for a more attractive game. Having a rerun of last year is kind of interesting, and certainly they're going to have a lot of motivation. But so are we.''

While the world watches Beckham, the Dynamo believe they're better prepared this year to spring an upset for their first title since 2007. Key Houston playmaker Brad Davis is healthy after missing the final last season with an injury, and the Dynamo have been every bit as impressive as the Galaxy lately.

``When Houston and L.A. got into the playoffs, I think a lot of teams weren't happy about it,'' said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear, who could win his third MLS Cup. ``I think they saw something inside of us that's going to make us difficult to knock out, and I think they thought the same thing about the Galaxy.''

Although Beckham is still the star attraction for one more game, the Galaxy increasingly belong to Robbie Keane, the Irish national team captain who scored 16 regular-season goals and five more in the playoffs during an outstanding first full season with the Galaxy. While Beckham and Donovan contemplate their futures, Keane confirmed he isn't going anywhere after playing for his second MLS Cup in his short stateside tenure.

Donovan swatted away questions about his future in both English and Spanish on Friday, claiming he's focused only on the match. The Galaxy are hopeful he'll return after a break - and particularly with the motivation of another title defense alongside Keane and whatever third designated player Los Angeles lands in the next few months, whether it's Kaka, Frank Lampard or another big name.

The Dynamo aren't on the Galaxy's level in international cachet or payroll, but their consistent success is a model of clever coaching and judicious management by Kinnear and the front office. While the MLS Cup isn't really a referendum on those two starkly different approaches to building a team, it's yet another wrinkle of intrigue in the matchup.

Yet the day is likely to belong to Beckham, who hasn't revealed where he'll play next, or where he plans to invest as an MLS owner in the near future. After his rocky MLS arrival turned into an exemplary run under Arena's leadership, the English midfielder hopes to finish up his tenure with a few more bending passes and one more trophy.

And the Dynamo are eager to spoil it all.

``We're all happy and thankful for what David has done, but that's not what makes the world go round,'' said Davis, one of Beckham's few MLS peers on setpieces and free kicks. ``I was playing here before he came here, and hopefully I'll be playing after he leaves.''

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE