Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham announced Monday that MLS Cup 2012 on Dec. 1 will be his final competitive game for the club.
Beckham, 37, originally signed with the Galaxy in January 2007 and has been an important factor in the growth of MLS and soccer in the United States over his six seasons in Southern California.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I want 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."
Since coming over to the U.S. from Spanish giants Real Madrid, seven expansion teams -- the Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, Philadelphia Union, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC -- have debuted in MLS and 15 of the league's 19 teams play in soccer-specific stadiums.
Beckham was an MLS Best XI selection in 2011 and a three-time MLS All-Star. In 98 regular-season matches with the Galaxy, he tallied 18 goals and 40 assists, which is good for fourth-most in team history.
He also started 16 playoff matches for LA since the 2009 season and recorded eight assists while helping the club capture the 2011 MLS Cup title at Home Depot Center with a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.
The London native set an MLS record by becoming the first player to register an assist in five consecutive postseason games,
Beckham is a veteran of three World Cups for England and is the most capped field player in England history with 115 international appearances. He has scored 17 international goals and worn the captain's armband on more than 50 occasions for his country.
The set-piece specialist began his illustrious playing career with Manchester United, where he appeared in 265 matches and scored 62 goals while helping the Red Devils win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League title.
Beckham will face his final on-pitch challenge when the Galaxy host the Dynamo looking for their second consecutive -- and fourth overall -- MLS Cup title.