By Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports
July 28, 2007
LOS ANGELES – David Beckham's ankle injury kept him shackled to the bench, but the England star still had the chance to show his commitment to the Los Angeles Galaxy's cause.
As planned, Beckham did not figure in the Galaxy's 2-1 SuperLiga defeat to Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara at the Coliseum, as he continued to give the prescribed rest for his troublesome left ankle.
However, that did not stop him from blowing off some steam by rushing onto the field along with coach Frank Yallop at the final whistle in order to remonstrate with referee Courtney Campbell over some questionable calls.
In one swoop, Beckham immediately proved that his pilgrimage to Major League Soccer is, as far as he is concerned at least, not about replica jerseys, ticket sales and his wife Victoria's reality TV shows.
While this disappointing defeat left the Galaxy's hopes of reaching the SuperLiga semifinals hanging on Tuesday's visit to FC Dallas, the former Real Madrid man's current teammates were encouraged by their new colleague's public display of pique.
"We were all a bit upset at some of the calls," Galaxy forward Alan Gordon said. "David was sharing in that. He was getting off the bench a few times and getting annoyed and it was good to see.
"He is emotional about the game, just as we are. It is good for us to see him show that passion even if he can't take part in the game. He is a competitive person and that will continue."
Beckham started the night with a smile on his face, joking on the bench with Cobi Jones and seeing the funny side when a technical malfunction meant the recorded Mexican national anthem got stuck halfway through.
He could not suppress another grin when Chivas forward Omar Arellano produced a horrendous blooper in the 34th minute. Arellano merely had to tap the ball into a wide-open net after being set up by Ramon Morales, but he somehow scuffed his shot and was left clutching his head in disbelief.
This was one of the very few games Beckham will attend this season where he is not the center of attention, whether he takes to the pitch or not. The drawing card last night was not the man known in his homeland as "Goldenballs" but the visitors from south of the border, Chivas.
The Mexican club boasts strong support in southern California, and with its fans making up the vast majority of the 37,337 in the Coliseum, Beckham should have left with no doubt about the level of soccer fervour in the Latin community, support that he's accustomed to in Europe.
His task is to stir up similar feelings of passion and loyalty among the Galaxy's following. It is a bold challenge which will take time to accomplish, but if the most famous soccer player on the planet cannot achieve it, then no one can.
Chivas had the better of the first half without scoring, then finally broke the deadlock after an hour thanks to a header from enterprising defender Francisco Rodriguez. Substitute Omar Bravo effectively put the game beyond doubt with a well-taken second goal in the 82nd minute to leave the Galaxy miffed. Landon Donovan grabbed a consolation goal with a lovely dink over goalkeeper Ernesto Michel with two minutes to go.
Beckham is itching to get his American adventure properly started. All he has to show so far is a dozen touches with a strapped ankle against Chelsea and thousands of rolls of photographic film from the theatrical unveiling that drew media focus from all corners of the globe.
There are no guarantees Beckham will be fit in time for the Dallas game and he will have his ankle monitored further over the next 48 hours.
The temptation for the Galaxy is to get him into action as soon as is possible. But sanity must prevail. Yallop, president Alexi Lalas and Beckham himself will take no chances unless they are sure he can come through the final SuperLiga group game unscathed.
"Just having him around is good for morale," Yallop said. "He is right behind the team and always has been from day one. He got a bit of the atmosphere from sitting on the bench and from David's point of view he saw a team that won't give up and will keep going.
"He wanted to be on the bench and be involved. We are desperate to get him on the field, everyone wants him on the field and he wants to be there. But this is a good experience to get him used to the players, see how they prepare and how they react."
Martin Rogers is a staff writer for Yahoo! Sports.
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Updated on Sunday, Jul 29, 2007 2:59 am, EDT
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