It was a night of firsts for David Beckham.
The English superstar started his first game for the Galaxy, scored his first goal in the 27th minute and Los Angeles beat D.C. United 2-0 in the SuperLiga semi-finals.
"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 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, who drew 2-2 with Houston, but won 4-3 on penalty kicks.
The winning team earns US$1 million, which the Galaxy could put toward paying Beckham's US$6.5 million yearly salary.
Beckham also earned his first yellow card after fouling United's Jaime Moreno in the 18th minute.
After scoring Beckham was mobbed by teammates. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon ran 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 on July 13.
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.
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.
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.
"It made him a real part of the team," Donovan said.