Injury may keep Beckham out against Revolution

August 11, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- David Beckham may be returning to the bench just three days after making his Major League Soccer debut.

Beckham aggravated his injured left ankle earlier this week and will be a game-time decision when the Los Angeles Galaxy play the New England Revolution on Sunday.

"My ankle flared up a bit after the game the other day, and it's swollen up a little bit from flyin," Beckham said. "We'll have to see how it is. It was fine running out there a little bit, but that's all I really tried on the field."

Beckham, his ankle wrapped, stretched and jogged on the sidelines during Saturday's practice while his teammates went through drills and an intrasquad scrimmage. He tried a few kicks on set pieces, but that was the only time he kicked the ball hard.

The former England captain played 21 minutes off the bench in the Galaxy's 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Thursday. He had planned to play at least one half against the Revolution.

Though Beckham has been critical of artificial turf, he said Gillette Stadium's field won't play a factor in whether he plays.

"The surface actually looked really good out there," he said. "It's better than the Toronto field the other day. It's different, but you have to deal with it. It's part of the MLS -- I'm sure I'll be fine."

The Revolution have sold all 32,000 seats available for the match, the most tickets the team has sold for a regular-season game at Gillette Stadium.

But it's not just the fans hoping to see perhaps the world's most famous soccer player.

"It's exciting," Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst said. "We grew up watching him, and obviously he's one of the best in the world."

New England (9-4-6), in first place in the Eastern Conference, won't change it's game plan.

"They've got some good players, not just Beckham. We're not going out of our way to change too much, but certainly we know that if Beckham plays he has to be looked after," coach Steve Nicol said.

The Galaxy (3-6-5), in fifth place in the Western Conference, need a healthy Beckham. Despite the presence of U.S. national team captain Landon Donovan, Los Angeles has only scored 17 goals in 14 games.

Beckham and Donovan nearly connected for a goal against United, but Donovan tripped over D.C. goalkeeper Troy Perkins while trying to field a pass from Beckham.

"You can see when he has the ball he can make things happen," Donovan said. "We nearly got a couple chances with him on the field, so I think people can see he'll help us out a lot."

Beckham signed a $32.5 million, five-year contract with the Galaxy in January. The injury has limited Beckham to one exhibition game with the Galaxy before his MLS debut on Thursday.

He sprained the ankle while playing for England in June and aggravated the injury in a game with Real Madrid later that month.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press