Galaxy's biggest star, Beckham, talks before game vs. Union

David Beckham scored for Los Angeles in Saturday's win over Chivas USA.
David Beckham scored for Los Angeles in Saturday's win over Chivas USA.
Posted: October 05, 2010

In the wake of a renewed Eagles quarterback saga, the Phillies' National League Division Series Game 1 and the Flyers' opening night, it's conceivable that the arrival of international soccer superstar David Beckham could go relatively unnoticed this week among Philadelphia sports enthusiasts.

Beckham, Major League Soccer's biggest name, arrives in town tomorrow night with the Los Angeles Galaxy in advance of Thursday night's clash at PPL Park against the Union in MLS' Game of the Week (8 p.m., ESPN2).

People who aren't even fans of soccer know Beckham's name carries an immense amount of weight in the soccer world. But what MLS fans have seen over the course of four seasons in a 5-year, $32.5 million contract is a Beckham marred by injury and overshadowed by two of his own teammates in Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle. Donovan, 28, cemented his spot as the face of U.S. Soccer during last summer's FIFA World Cup while Buddle, 29, leads the league in goals (15) and is on track to win MLS' Golden Boot.

Nevertheless, both instances are just fine with Beckham, once regarded as the potential savior of MLS who appreciates the league's transition from hunting aging Eurostars to now flooding funds into the development of homegrown talent.

"Those guys are what this league needs, not international superstars," Beckham told the Daily News. "MLS fans need to see American players, people they can relate to. There are good, young players coming through this league and I believe that will continue with the emphasis on homegrown talent."

But that's not to say Becks doesn't still possess the talents that makes him one of the most lethal dead-ball strikers of all time. On Saturday, in a 2-1 Galaxy win over rival Chivas USA, Beckham, true to the film that bears his name, bent a 25-yard free kick around a wall, finding the top corner of the far post, a goal he's scored in his sleep, but just his first in MLS since last October against Toronto FC. Recovery from a left Achilles' injury has lasted close to 6 months and kept him off England boss Fabio Capello's World Cup roster.

"It was disappointing, but these things happen in life," Beckham said. "I have never had a serious injury, besides a broken foot or a broken arm, that has kept me out of action for so long. It was extremely difficult for me mentally as hard as I'd worked to make the World Cup squad, but it's something I had to look past and move forward."

Beckham hasn't ruled out making the English team - for which he already has 115 appearances and 17 goals - for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Despite knowing he will be at the overripe age of 39 in soccer years (Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro recently retired from international competition at 38), Beckham said that he will play if he is needed. Loaned twice to Italian giant AC Milan before his injury in the hopes of impressing Capello, Beckham wouldn't say if he has thoughts of taking a similar route at the end of this season.

"I'll always have aspirations, but I have to take a realistic look at it," Beckham said. "If I look after my body I'd want to play in that World Cup given it'll be such a huge World Cup with the talent [in Brazil]. Right now, I need to get myself in playing shape and hopefully I'll be able to still play at that level."

Coaching is out of the question for Beckham, who said that "it's something I am not passionate about; being a manager has never interested me and I doubt it ever will," but there have been talks regarding Becks as the possible successor to Capello.

Ultimately, he's a guy who "lives in the present" and right now David Beckham's present - in addition to clearing his name amid rumors involving infidelity to wife Victoria - is his first visit to Philadelphia with the Galaxy.

"Philly is a great franchise with a great stadium and great fans, and when you have a buzz like they do, which I think is growing throughout MLS, it makes guys like myself less of an impact on having to attract interest in the league," he said.

And separating soccer from the fervid scrutiny of his personal life?

"It's not hard to separate," Beckham said. "For me I just try to focus on the things that are important to my life and make sure I do things in the public eye that won't leave any question to my character and who I am as a person."

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