The world-famous British footballer David Beckham started his first game for the Galaxy and scored his first goal in the USA on the 27th minute of the match. As a result, Los Angeles beat D.C. United 2-0 in the SuperLiga semifinals.
"The free kick was the first I've taken for eight weeks, so it was quite pleasing," he said. "I felt I was going to score as soon as I had the ball in my hands."
Beckham also notched his first assist on the Galaxy's second goal. He sent a long pass to a streaking Landon Donovan, who scored on a breakaway in the 47th minute for a 2-0 lead.
"David makes a big difference in there, and it's not just the goal," Donovan said. "It was a big lift for everyone. We were all excited. It was nice."
The Galaxy advanced to the Aug. 29 tournament final in Carson against Mexican club team Pachuca, which tied Houston 2-2, but won 4-3 on penalty kicks.
The winning team earns $1 million (EUR 740,000), which the Galaxy could put toward paying Beckham's $6.5 million (EUR 4.8 million) yearly salary.
Beckham also earned his first yellow card after fouling United's Jaime Moreno in the 18th minute. Beckham got fouled once in the first half, when he also took two corner kicks.
Fans cheered and women screamed as Beckham prepared to take a 26-yard (24-meter) free kick. After he connected inside the left post, he was mobbed by teammates. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon even scampered across more than half the field to join the celebration.
"The guy hadn't even taken a free kick in practice," Cannon said. "Think about what happens when he can start playing every day and start doing those things."
Beckham waved to the crowd a couple times while blue, gold and white confetti fluttered through the air, reminiscent of the scene when he was introduced amid much fanfare July 13.
He was stopped on a 28-yard (26-meter) free kick in the 58th minute, when United goalkeeper Troy Perkins leaped to the left and caught the ball.
"He hit it well, but I wasn't in a good spot, either, and he caught me," Perkins said. "When you get a player who can hit a ball to either side, you've got to keep to one side and make him beat you."
In all, Beckham played 63 minutes. He clapped his hands above his head while turning in a circle to acknowledge the cheers before putting the captain's armband on Donovan and heading to the bench.
"I didn't expect to last an hour. It felt great," he said.
Beckham had played just 37 minutes in two previous games because of a nagging left ankle injury that didn't allow him to practice with the Galaxy for the first time until Tuesday.
The victory avenged the Galaxy's 1-0 loss to United last week in Major League Soccer action, when Beckham made his league debut on the road.
"It was a good strike," United coach Tom Soehn said. "He's been scoring goals all over the world like that."
Beckham took over as captain for Wednesday's match, a title previously held by Donovan. Beckham actively urged on his teammates, talking to them and waving his arms during play.
Donovan suggested to Beckham on Tuesday that he become captain.