David Beckham threw caution to the wind playing a full 90 minutes in his first start of the 2010 season for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham, who has been anointed as the player to take the MLS from a football backwater to international status, was just as surprised as his teammates that he stayed in for the entire game in the Galaxy’s 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
“It was good to get 90 minutes,” Beckham said.
And in an ironic twist, Beckham was forced to put his surgically-repaired foot to a full test and go the distance against the Red Bulls because of substitutions and injuries to his teammates Friday.
“We had to do that,” said Beckham. “I discussed with Bruce (coach Arena) during the week that I would play 65 to 70 minutes and I felt pretty good.”
The 35-year-old, ex-England captain created scoring chances, took a free kick, survived a hard tackle early that tested his injury and received a yellow card late in the match for a hard tackle of his own in front of a crowd of 27,000 at The Home Depot Center.
“At some stages I felt tired but we had a few players pull up with injuries so I had to stay on,” he said.
Beckham suffered the injury in mid-March while on loan to AC Milan. The injury kept Beckham, England’s most-capped outfield player, from playing in his fourth World Cup as he missed the 2010 finals in South Africa.
“David felt he could play 90 minutes.” Arena said. “In a perfect world he should not have played that long. He showed tremendous character and quality in last 20 minutes when by all rights he should have been off the field.”
Beckham, who had played just 57 minutes as a substitute in his first two games this season, wasn’t complaining Friday. He just wished his Galaxy had gotten off to a better start.
Los Angeles didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 66th minute but then rallied to control the offence late in the game.
“The first half sets the tone of the game and the first half wasn’t good for us,” Beckham said. “We didn’t start well. They kept the ball and we didn’t pressure them. When you start games like that it is tough going on from there.”
Friday’s contest was the first start for Beckham since last year’s MLS final.
He made his first appearance of this season on September 11, coming off the bench for 20 minutes against the Columbus Crew. He followed that up with 37 minutes as a substitute against DC United last weekend. Unlike Friday’s campaign, both those games resulted in Galaxy wins.
Friday’s match was billed as Beckham versus Thierry Henry, the French star who recently signed a 5.6 million dollar contract to join the Red Bulls.
Henry was ruled out of the match because of a nagging strained right knee that he suffered three weeks ago in a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
Beckham said he enjoyed stepping back into the spotlight against the Red Bulls in what could be a preview of the MLS Cup in November.
“Obviously there was a bit more hype and buzz around this game because it was New York and the rivalry,” Beckham said.
“The players they brought in with (Rafael) Marquez and Thierry. There was more hype around the game and it was a full stadium. There was a buzz leading up to it but once you start the game it is just like any other game.”
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