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A 'Real' pain for Galaxy

REVERSE IT LIKE BECKHAM
There will be many who hold serious reservations about David Beckham's ability to make an immediate impact when he does properly begin his L.A. Galaxy career. Yet those doubters should bear in mind that this is a man who has confounded the critics and written his own scripts for most of his 32 years.

Following the World Cup last year, he was phoned by incoming England manager Steve McClaren and told he was "one of the casualties" of the new regime. Also, when he announced he was leaving Real Madrid to sign with the Galaxy, then-coach Fabio Capello vowed never to play him again.

Both McClaren and Capello are men who are normally steadfast in their convictions, but they were persuaded to change their minds by the sort of steely resolve and never-say-die attitude that has defined Beckham's career.

Beckham first fought his way back into the Madrid side by performing in reserve matches and in training, making it impossible for Capello to extend his exile from the lineup.

As he helped Madrid embark upon a run that would eventually see them overtake rival Barcelona for the La Liga title, England's national team was struggling and McClaren reached for the phone once more, this time to reverse his earlier decision and recall Beckham for international duty.

So, a word of warning to those who like to write Beckham off: This is a man who thrives on premature predictions of doom.

– Martin Rogers

CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham signed off his Real Madrid career by finally clinching the Spanish league title, but that fairytale finish may have blotted the script of his move to Hollywood.

The England midfielder had his left ankle pumped with pain-killing injections by Madrid doctors ahead of the final match of the La Liga campaign, in which he helped the Galacticos beat Real Mallorca and snatch the trophy away from hated rivals Barcelona.

That night was one of the greatest in Beckham's career, as he was given a joyous sendoff by the Madrid fans, celebrated aboard an open-top bus that rode through the city and partied with Hollywood friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Now though, six weeks later, he is being made to pay the price for his own – and Real's – determination to have him involved in that crucial title decider.

After Beckham was ruled out of the Los Angeles Galaxy's trip to take on FC Dallas in their final SuperLiga group match on Tuesday, coach Frank Yallop spoke out about what he feels is the real (or should that be Real?) reason why the most famous face in the MLS has so far seen only 16 minutes of action since coming to the United States.

"There is no structural damage at all, to the tendons, bones, or anything," said Yallop, speaking at the Galaxy's training fields. "It is just when he played the last game in Madrid he got injected.

"A lot of scar tissue came from that. Because he was not feeling the pain, he kind of did more damage to it. Not structural, just fluid and bleeding and stuff like that. It basically just compacted and sat in there.

"He got told it would be OK just by resting it and obviously it wasn't OK. When he started to run he felt sore and it got pretty tight.

"We feel for him. He listened to what they told him to do and he did it, and all of a sudden his ankle is blown up and sore."

Beckham was on the receiving end of a crunching tackle from Chelsea's Steve Sidwell in his only match for the Galaxy. However, that collision is not believed to have worsened the condition of his ankle.

To Beckham's credit, he asked to be allowed to travel with the team to Dallas and sit on the bench, just like he did against Chivas de Guadalajara at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night. However, he has been advised to remain in southern California and continue to undergo rehabilitation on his ankle, as it was thought air travel could set him back further.

The aim now is to get Beckham right for the trip to face struggling Toronto FC on Sunday when the Galaxy resume action in the MLS and start to play makeup games.

"He is going to work real hard while we are away, get out on the field at some point and give it a test," Yallop said. "He is very frustrated. I feel for him really because he wants to get going and we have had all the fanfare of him arriving and now he just wants to get with his teammates and help us win some games.

"We are not here to force anybody to play, especially someone like David. He will tell us. … When he gets out here and says it feels great and he is ready to go, we will look forward to that time."