CARSON, Calif. – It is a fair bet David Beckham has never before switched on the television and been greeted by programming such as professional rodeo or the World Series of Video Games.
Never, in Manchester or Madrid, would he have seen restaurants boasting a three-quarter-pound hamburger. Or spotted a sandwich in a supermarket carved from an entire loaf of bread.
Adapting to his new life in America must make for a confusing time for the England star, who has still seen just 16 minutes of playing time in a Los Angeles Galaxy jersey.
But as they would say on the streets of east London where Beckham grew up, what is really "doing his head in" is the sense that his injury layoff has prevented him from offering value for the Galaxy's money since arriving in the United States.
Beckham knows that all the column inches, airtime and giant billboards which accompanied his move, count for little until he starts showing why he is one of the world's best on the pitch.
Galaxy president Alexi Lalas revealed that the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder is torn between giving his troubled left ankle adequate rest and his desire to start justifying his gigantic contract.
"David wants to play and he feels he is letting people down," Lalas said. "He is frustrated and it is tough but he is going to be with us for a long time and it is important he is completely healthy."
Beckham has still not completed a full Galaxy training session and underwent further treatment and evaluation on his ankle here Sunday morning.
He will be assessed by coach Frank Yallop and team medical staff following training at the Home Depot Center on Monday. Unless there is a realistic chance Beckham will play a major part in Tuesday night's final SuperLiga group match against FC Dallas, he is unlikely to make the trip to Texas.
Yallop, Lalas and Beckham have some difficult decisions ahead, with a gruelling road trip around North America rapidly approaching.
Steve McClaren, England's national team coach, is keen to come and see his most famous player and check on his form before a swing of vital European Championships qualifying games that will determine England's involvement in the finals next year.
Yet even if Beckham is healthy enough to play a full part in Dallas and in what would be his first MLS game in Toronto this Sunday, it is hard to envision him figuring in all the other three away games that follow.
The Galaxy can book their spot in the semifinals of the SuperLiga, an eight-team competition featuring four Major League clubs and four from Mexico, with a win in Dallas. However, they must quickly shake off the disappointment of losing to Chivas de Guadalajara at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night, a game in which the 2-1 scoreline could have been significantly worse.
But while Beckham may feel annoyed at being unable to contribute to the team's performances so far, defender Abel Xavier revealed his new teammate's impact stretches beyond the sidelines.
"When you get someone who has been involved in such a big team like Real Madrid, with fantastic Galacticos everywhere, it gives them a special mentality," Xavier said. "David is very strong and he sets a great example. It is a great opportunity for the young players to gain experience just by being around him and we can all learn from how he approaches his job."
- Alexi Lalas
- Real Madrid