Naturally reporters were much more interested in talking about David Beckham today than the much more important-sounding than it really is Pan-Pacific Championship, the four-team preseason tournament that begins Wednesday at Home Depot Center.
So here’s the latest from Coach Bruce Arena, although let’s keep in mind he conceded today he’s never spoken to Milan officials or Beckham representatives about any possible deal, since all that is being handled by AEG President Tim Leiweke (so Arena said he is unaware, for instance, whether AC Milan officials are on en route to L.A. to continue negotiations over Beckham’s contract, as reports out of Europe suggested today).
On whether a deal was still possible, despite the unilateral Beckham trade deadline “imposed” by MLS Commissioner Don Garber that came and went last Friday:
“Legally, technically, March 8 would be the final date of altering the loan agreement,” he said. “I think that would be accurate.”
On whether the Becks and Landon Donovan trade issues are a distraction:
“Whenever you have these type of situations and two important players away from your team, it’s a less than perfect way of preparing, but it hasn’t been a distraction of anything we’ve been doing,”he said. “We prepare (the team) like you do everyday when you have players not here whether they’re away on loan or injuries or because of suspension. It’s the business of the game. You’re constantly making adjustments for players you do or don’t have.”
But veteran Galaxy midfielder Eddie Lewis conceded today that if the Galaxy forces Donovan or Beckham to return, that does not bode well for the team:
“If they’re not happy to come back I think it would be silly to not think there would (not) be some sort of hangover effect. They’re both playing with extremely big clubs in powerful leagues.”
Finally, here’s some non-Beckham team news. Last week the Galaxy cut five players from camp – Vardan Adzemian, Venezuelan central defender Leo Bautista, 2008 first round draft pick Mike Gavin and midfielder Mike Muoz (formerly of Chivas USA) – to leave the Galaxy’s roster at 33 players.
Arena was asked why Bautista, who came in as a highly-touted possible starter, was cut:
“He’s a somewhat inexperienced player who might not be physically strong enough to deal with the speed of the game in MLS,” he said. “He wasn’t the answer for us at this point in time.”