LOS ANGELES- David Beckham says the MLS Cup next month will be his final game with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham and the Galaxy announced the superstar English midfielder's decision Monday, a day after the defending MLS champions advanced to their second straight league final. Los Angeles faces Houston for the MLS title on Dec. 1.
The 37-year-old Beckham isn't retiring, however.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the L.A. Galaxy," Beckham said in a statement. "However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. 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 has played six years in Los Angeles since his groundbreaking move from Europe, reaching three league finals and winning one MLS title last year during his best season stateside. He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Galaxy in January after playing out his initial five-year deal, turning down potential moves to Paris St. Germain and other clubs.
Beckham hadn't given any overt indications he was planning to leave the Galaxy after this season. Last week, Beckham pointedly denied rumors linking him to a short-term stint in Australia.
"Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport," said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners AEG. "David not only took our franchise to another level, but he took our sport to another level 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."
Los Angeles got off to a slow start to the year, but has played splendidly down the stretch, culminating in a two-game victory over the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference finals. Beckham has been the star player on the league's glamour franchise during his tenure, which began with a handful of rocky seasons before the Galaxy became a power under coach Bruce Arena over the past few years.
"In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year," Beckham said. "I've been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I've had from fans in L.A. and across the States. Soccer's potential has no limits in this wonderful country, and I want to always be part of growing it."