English star David Beckham made his Major League Soccer debut Thursday night here in Washington, but his Los Angeles Galaxy club lost to DC United, 1-0. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer was at the match at RFK Stadium and has details.
Before a sellout crowd of nearly 47,000 and a national television audience, David Beckham came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute, shortly after a pouring rain let up. His Los Angeles Galaxy team was trailing 1-0 and also playing a man short after Kyle Martino was red-carded in the 67th minute for a hard tackle.
With an injured left ankle that's bothered him for two months, it was uncertain if Beckham would take the field, but the 32-year-old midfielder had assured his coach Frank Yallop that he could manage, and Yallop was okay with the field conditions.
"I think it made it a bit easier because it was not so much of a sticky field. I think ankles tend to get caught up in the grass and you can turn them again, so I think once the rain started to come down I felt more comfortable with putting David on," said Yallop. "You know we asked him and he said he was ready to go, so that was good news; great to see him out there."
Beckham did not deny that he is still affected by the ankle, injured while playing in a European Championship qualifier for England June 6, but he said it was good to finally see MLS action after leaving Spain's Real Madrid at the end of the Spanish league season and coming to the United States.
"There was tenderness. There was hesitation. Obviously I haven't played for eight weeks. I haven't trained [fully] for eight weeks on a field so it's the first sort of time I've really gotten into anything competitive," said Beckham. "But I was happy to be out there. I was happy to get out there and at least get 20 minutes in the game."
Beckham had played 16 minutes on July 21, but that was in the Galaxy's friendly match against English club Chelsea. He did not get in before a disappointed sellout crowd in Toronto last Sunday. Beckham said he appreciated the warm reception he got from the sell-out Washington crowd when he entered the game.
"It's not nice to disappoint people that have paid a lot of money to come and see the game and buy tickets, and I was thankful that I could actually even get on the [field] tonight. So it was a good night, but a bad night because we ended up losing the game," said Beckham.
The only goal of the game came in the 27th minute from DC United's Brazilian star Luciano Emilio. He has scored 11 goals in the last 10 games and is Major League Soccer's leading scorer with 13.