Football Friday

Your Daily Beckham

Surprise, surprise Beckham won’t play Sunday.

The bright side for Galaxy fans: It’s looking increasingly unlikely England Coach Steve McClaren will pick Beck’s for upcoming internationals that conflict with some games at Home Depot Center.

Media columnist Tom Hoffarth looks at the implications of an invisible Becks for TV and the game in general.

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Breaking News: Injured Becks Won’t Travel To Dallas For Tuesday’s SuperLiga game


The David Beckham road show has been delayed with Galaxy Coach Frank Yallop confirming at training this morning what was widely suspected: Beck’s will not travel with the team to Dallas’ sold out Pizza Hut Park and remain home rehabbing his still-injured left ankle.

Beckham is now targeting Sunday’s MLS game against Toronto F.C. for a return to the field, Yallop said, although that will be played on artificial turf in Canada, which is hard on even completely healthy knees and ankles.

“He’s going to start running on it … tomorrow, so he can get on it and see what it feels like,” Yallop said. “He’s got to get rid of the pain.”

Also out for Tuesday’s final SuperLiga group game: Kyle Martino (groin) and Cobi Jones, who was undergoing an MRI Monday to determine the severity of a deep hip strain it’s hoped is not a tear.

I’ll have more on Beckham’s health woes in Tuesday’s column.

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Beckham Tickets & TV

After Beck’s sat out the SuperLiga opener Tuesday, Galaxy Coach Frank Yallop said after the game he anticipates making another late decision on whether he’ll play Saturday against Mexico’s Chivas at the Coliseum, so you might want hold off buying a ticket yet.

And, it turns out, people are, at least on the secondary market.

TicketsNow said Tuesday “ticket demand in the secondary market has come back down to earth” and they had more than 2,000 tickets to move for the three Galaxy SuperLiga games. The price range: $11-$268, compared to prices as high as $1,250 for the game this past weekend.

Meanwhile, Telemundo TV executives must be praying Beckham will play Saturday.

ESPN released the final ratings Tuesday for David Beckham’s MLS debut and while lower than the 1.2 overnights in major markets released earlier said it was the most-watched MLS telecast ever on ESPN or ESPN2, with 947,000 homes tuning in. That translated into a 1.0 rating, which may not sound like much, but MLS ratings are usually all but invisible, averaging around a 0.2 or so.

Here’s the (edited) ESPN press release:

“The telecast, which featured David Beckham playing for 16 minutes in his first match in a Galaxy uniform despite nursing an ankle injury, was also the most-viewed and highest-rated program of the night on ad-supported cable networks among Men 18-49 and 25-54.

The match beat the previous most-viewed telecast, the first in league history in April 1996 between D. C. United and the San Jose Clash, which was seen in 681,000 homes for a 1.0 rating.

The game also beat the most-viewed, non-World Cup final U.S. National Team game on ESPN or ESPN2. Previously, the most-viewed U.S. National Team telecast, seen in 680,000 homes for a 0.9 rating, was for the Oct. 3, 1997, World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the U.S. on ESPN.”

Not surprisingly, the Galaxy (and Beckham) are slated for five more prime time appearances on ESPN2 this season.

And David Beckham’s Soccer USA premieres at 6 p.m. today on Fox Soccer Channel.

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The Mad Mad Media World of David Beckham

Sports media critic Tom Hoffarth breaks down the planned ESPN coverage of Becks Saturday for what may or may not be his Galaxy debut in Carson.

And if that’s news to you, read the previous post.

My bet: he’ll put in at least a cameo appearance if only to prevent a class action lawsuit from fans seeking ticket refunds.

Meanwhile, Beckham has quietly put up his own American-oriented Web site.

Supposedly he’ll blog at some point (welcome to the party, Becks), but for now that hasn’t happened and the updates are coming a little slow. Still, you can win a signed Galaxy Beckham shirt there.

By the way, as the pace of marketing soccer quickens in the U.S., it’s becoming a mini-trend for familiar names in Europe to try to establish themselves as brands here by unveiling Americanized Web sites.

English Premier League team Chelsea, the Galaxy’s opponents Saturday, has one called Chelsea in America.

And Real Madrid, Becks’ former team, unveiled one this week dubbed Real Madrid America.

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100 Percent Soccer on “Which Way, L.A.?”

I’ll be talking to Warren Olney, host of “Which Way, L.A.?” at 7 p.m. on KCRW (89.9 FM) about David Beckham’s prospects of making his debut Saturday against Chelsea.

Updated: Listen to the podcast here.

The Reporter’s Notebook segment on Beckham is about 20 minutes into the program, after a lengthy discussion on Homeland Security.

Updated 9:50 p.m. Anyone else smell a major PR debacle brewing?

At the half of the MLS All-Star game tonight, Beckham said live on ESPN2 that he’s more likely than not to miss Saturday’s game against Chelsea.

But even after those comments, ESPN continued to promote his appearance during the game, simply saying he’s unlikely to start. The network plans blanket coverage of his debut, including an isolated camera on Beckham — even if he is on the bench.

In the Associated Press story that followed on Beckham’s comments, Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas is quoted as saying Beckham will get on the field in some fashion.

The apparent conflict leaves plenty of questions:

Is a player-club clash over Beckham’s fitness to play unfolding? Will commercial interests be placed over a player’s long-term health? If the injury was this serious why didn’t Beckham get here sooner for treatment rather than the day before he was introduced at the HDC? What kind of treatment did he receive in England? And how exciting will it be for television viewers to see Beckham wave to Tom Cruise from the bench?

Oh, and the MLS All-Stars beat Celtic 2-0 in the game.

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David Beckham Takes the Field

David Beckham stepped on the HDC turf promptly at 3 p.m. today for the first time as a Galaxy player with about 1,500 fans in the stands looking on, a press box full of English accents and a rock music soundtrack over the loudspeakers.

He didn’t train with the majority of the squad, however, instead working out with the similarly injured Chris Albright and trainer Ivan Pierra on the side of the field in front of the press box.

Beckham’s exercises appeared designed to strengthen his suspect left ankle, although his lateral movement looked strong.

Updated 3:50 p.m.: Beckham went through a light workout for 45 minutes, mainly stretching and jogging with our Galaxy players nursing knocks, including Quavas Kirk, Edson Buddle and Kyle Veris.

Next update: Beckham’s dinner plans (I’m kidding).

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Galaxy beat writer Billy Witz deconstructs how much of David Beckham local fans will really see.

The answer is: not much.

Of course that assumes Beckham wins an England recall so he can add to his 96 caps and misses those home Galaxy games. That’s likely given the way England have played without him and the criticism Coach Steve McClaren came in for as a result, but not a certainty.

On the other hand, Beckham might well miss even MORE MLS games if gets injured, a distinct possibility for any 32-year-old player.

For those wanting to mark their calendars, here’s a Galaxy schedule.

And while we’re at it, here’s one for England.

In fact, of course, Beckham is already a doubt since he’s still bothered by the ankle injury that forced his substitution in Real Madrid’s final game of the season.

Will he train today at the HDC open house intended to promote the four-team World Series of Football tournament that begins tomorrow?

The Galaxy train at 3 p.m. in the main stadium followed by a press conference between the coaches of the four teams; Chelsea train at 5 p.m. Gates open at 2 p.m.

Admission and parking are free.

The HDC is at the corner of Avalon Boulevard and Victoria Street in Carson.

More than 20 players who represented their countries at last year’s World Cup are on the rosters for the tournament, which also includes Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Mexico’s Tigres UANL.

Tuesday’s opening game pits the Galaxy (not including Beckham) against a Tigres team that boasts Mexican National Team star Francisco Fonseca, as well as former MLS All-Star Juan Pablo Garcia, and forward Walter Gaitan. Kick off is at 5:30 p.m. live on Telefutura.

In the nightcap, Chelsea, the English Premier League winners in two of the last three seasons take on Suwon Samsung Bluewings, who feature Korean National Team stalwarts Lee Woon-Jae, Ahn Jung-Hwan, Kim Nam-Il and Song Chung-Gug. The game is live at 8 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

A limited number of tickets are still available starting at $60. Call 877-3GALAXY for more information

The tournament wraps up Saturday with a sold out doubleheader featuring Tigres playing Suwon (3 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol) and the Galaxy taking on Chelsea (5:30 p.m. live on ESPN). Beckham is expected to play, although it’s unknown whether he’s likely to go the full 90 minutes. (I doubt it)

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