Beckham Debuts in Galaxy Loss

Visibly favoring his injured left ankle, David Beckham made his much-anticipated debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 78th minute of their 1-0 loss to Chelsea FC on Saturday night.

In true Hollywood-style, many celebrities came to the Home Depot Center in hopes of watching Becks ply his trade, including Katie Holmes, Eva Longoria, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and long-time Galaxy supporter Drew Carey. There were a number of Chelsea supporters in attendance as well, but #23 Galaxy jerseys easily outnumbered those wearing the blue of Chelsea.

A no show during pre-game warm-ups with the club, Beckham eventually came out of the tunnel to a large ovation just prior to the start of the game. A cloud of photographers surrounded the Galaxy bench for several minutes before being cleared away by security.

On the field, the two clubs put on an exciting exhibition of soccer, with Chelsea getting the majority of quality scoring chances. Despite being outshot 14-3, the Galaxy held their own through the first half, keeping the game scoreless going into halftime.

In the 49th minute, Chelsea captain John Terry put the Blues ahead when the ball came to him after a scramble in the box on a corner kick. Playing with a broken toe on his right foot, Terry used his left to send a bullet toward through the crowd at the far corner, ricocheting off the post and in.

Shortly thereafter, the attention was on Beckham again as he was shown on the big-screen while lacing up his shoes. After several minutes, Beckham got up and begin stretching on the sidelines, drawing a roar from the 27,000 fans in attendance. Flash-bulbs followed the English star during his warm-ups as the crowd began chanting “we want Beckham.”

In the 78th minute, the David Beckham era in Los Angeles officially began as head coach Frank Yallop brought him on to replace injured forward Alan Gordon. With everyone standing and cheering, Beckham trotted onto the field while slightly favoring his injured left ankle. Every time the ball came close to him, fans cheered wildly for #23, hoping to see some of his magic.

Though mostly staying away from trouble during his time on the field, Beckham was the recipient of a vicious, but clean, sliding tackle from Steve Sidwell in extra time. Trying to recover the ball after a bad touch, Beckham and Sidwell reached the same point at the same time, with Sidwell’s tackle catching Beckham on both ankles as he got the ball. With Beckham staying on the turf for several seconds after the tackle, the crowd let out a gasp and watched in silence as Becks struggled to get back on his feet, grimacing as he gingerly trotted around the field.

“The ankle is swollen up slightly, but that was going to happen anyway,” Beckham said after the game. “I saw him coming and jumped just in time. My foot wasn’t actually planted when he hit me.”

In the final seconds of the match, the Galaxy drew a corner kick and Beckham raced over to take as the normal corner-kick taker, Landon Donovan, gave way with a smile. Perhaps the best indication that Beckham was nowhere near 100%, his corner kick was short and low, easily cleared away by the Chelsea defense as the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the game.

“I’m really pleased because I wanted to be out there tonight. I know how much attention was on the game,” said Beckham. “I think it was a good performance because when you’re playing against a team with the quality of Chelsea where every player is comfortable on the ball and every player is capable of doing something amazing, to only lose 1-0 is good. We had chances as well. I thought it was a good performance.”

Next up for the Galaxy is the SuperLiga, with games coming on Tuesday against Pachuca and Saturday against Chivas de Guadalajara. Beckham’s availability for both games is in question, with Frank Yallop wanting to err on the side of caution over Beckham’s ankle.

“Tonight he felt he had to be on the field,” said coach Yallop. “He might not play in the next two games or he might be involved in both. I would think he’d more likely be involved in the game on Saturday.”

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