Becks Starts in First Game Back for AC Milan

And in an unusual position, too, by the sound of it.

i-d793e2e4c6a0ad7c32c46b9cc50c89cb-becksacball.jpgBeckham: A picture of concentration in today’s game for AC Milan against Genoa. (AP Photo)

Here’s the game report:

MILAN (AP) — David Beckham began his second stint with AC Milan on Wednesday night, playing 76 minutes and positioned at forward rather than his usual midfield during his team’s 5-2 victory over Genoa in the Italian league.

The English star lined up on the right side of an attacking trio with Marco Borriello and
Ronaldinho. He came close to scoring in the first half, his long shot hitting the side
netting.

Beckham, on loan from the Galaxy, is looking to sharpen his game leading to the World Cup in South Africa.

In the third minute, Beckham crossed to Borriello, but Genoa’s Marco Amelia pushed away the shot from close range shot.

Milan won behind penalty kicks from Ronaldinho and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, two goals by Borriello and another by Thiago Silva. Giuseppe Sculli and David Suazo scored for Genoa.

AC Milan (10-3-4) moved into second place in Serie A with 34 points, eight behind Inter
(13-2-3), which won 1-0 at Chievo Verona on Mario Balotelli’s 12th-minute goal.

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Becks Gunning For Title With Milan

i-2f53ad2c91f2d1dcaed481ebabcd836d-milanacbecks.jpgDavid Beckham is back with AC Milan (AP Photo).

MILAN (AP) — David Beckham hopes his second stint with AC Milan will be as good as the five months he spent on loan with the Italian club in 2009.

The England and Galaxy midfielder passed a physical Tuesday and has spent the past two days training with his teammates.

AC Milan resumes play Jan. 6 against Genoa.

“My experience with the club was so special,” Beckham said Wednesday. “I missed the club. I missed playing for it; I missed the players and everybody associated with the club. It was a very special experience. It was good last time and I hope it will be as good this time.”

Beckham scored twice in 18 games for Milan from January to May 2009 while on loan from the Galaxy. He has repeated the move in a bid to secure his place at the 2010 World Cup.

After a slow start, new Milan coach Leonardo has been praised for an attacking philosophy that has taken his team into second place, eight points behind Inter Milan but with a game in hand.

“Milan can certainly win the title,” Beckham said. “It will be difficult because Inter and Juventus are great teams, but we have a good squad. All I am thinking about is the next six months here. I want to enjoy myself and help Milan win the championship.”

Beckham will return to Old Trafford in February for the first time since leaving Manchester United in 2003, after Milan was drawn against Manchester United in the Champions League.

It will be the first time he has played in the competition since 2007, when Real Madrid lost to Bayern Munich in the second round.

“When I found about the draw, I was nearly in tears,” he said. “It is a special place for me and I haven’t played there for nearly seven years. I have a lot of friends at the club and a great rapport with the fans. It will be a special evening, but we will be trying to win the match.”

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Galaxy Announce Beckham Loan Deal to AC Milan

Supposedly he’ll be back in mid-July 2010, after the World Cup concludes.

i-cff6b2b7591dd8245eb026352a7b562d-beckhamlakers.jpgBeckham found time to take in the Lakers game Sunday after playing in one of his final appearances at the HDC before heading to Italy. Son, Brooklyn, looked unimpressed though. (AP Photo)

He’ll join Milan Dec. 28 after the Galaxy’s post-season tour and remain with the Italian club through the end of their season in May.

“After the wonderful experience of last season we are very happy to see David Beckham again wearing the red and black colors,” said Adriano Galliani, Vice President and CEO of AC Milan. “We are confident his loan spell will not only improve Milan, it will help the player to take part in the World Cup in South Africa and continue to enhance his career in North America with the LA Galaxy. We would like to thank the Galaxy and MLS for their co-operation and understanding.”

Here’s Becks:

“I need to give myself the best chance possible to make the World Cup squad and playing for Milan on loan will help me to do that,” Beckham said. “I genuinely enjoyed my time at Milan and I look forward to meeting the players and staff again. I’m thankful to Tim Leiweke and Bruce Arena for allowing me this opportunity. I’m committed to LA Galaxy and MLS in the long term and remain as passionate as ever about growing the game of soccer in America . I’m completely focused on ending this season on a high note with my club by winning the MLS Cup.”

So another season of Beckham-era ticket prices then, but the team will be without Beckham for all but 11 games or so (which is what he managed this season).

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Waiting for the Weekend

The U.S. Women’s National Team plays Germany Oct. 29 in Augsburg, one of the venues for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. A top-class match-up between nations that haven’t met in nine years – and naturally there’s no TV coverage in the U.S.

Ah well, that’s not the case for many games this weekend. As always, click the link to the right for full details, but here’s the games I’ll be paying attention to this weekend:

Saturday
*6:55 a.m. ESPN2HD Wigan Athletic-Manchester United (this is pretty much a derby for those who don’t know their English geography. Can Wigan pull a Burnley?)

*7 a.m. Fox Soccer Channel Manchester City-Wolverhampton Wanderers (a match-up between the EPL’s newest moneybags and the newly promoted)

*11:30 a.m. FSC AC Milan-Siena (Serie A opener)

*1 p.m. Prime WPS final between the Sol and FC Sky Blue (Tickets start at $20 for this game at the HDC for those who prefer to be there live)

*2 p.m. FSC Hull City-Bolton Wanderers (Will Jozy Altidore play in his first game for Hull?)

*4:30 p.m. FSC D.C. United-Galaxy (David Beckham and Eddie Lewis return from one-game suspensions)

*7:30 p.m. Prime Chivas USA-Toronto (The flailing Goats’ first game in a month at home and with every adult ticket purchased starting at $15 a kid – um, child that is – gets in free)

Sunday
*8 a.m. FSC Fulham-Chelsea (with Clint Dempsey, who signed a new deal with Fulham this week, presumably leading the charge)

BTW, the college season is getting under way and locally the No. 17 boy Bruins get things started against Bakersfield at 3 p.m. Saturday at North Athletic Field. Admission is free. (The No. 3-ranked women visit top-ranked North Carolina Saturday, BTW).

In Long Beach, it’s the 49ers against Fresno State at 3 p.m. Sunday at George Allen Field.

(At this point I plan to blog from both games at the HDC Saturday, so check in for the latest as the weekend progresses).

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Blues Cruise Over Special One’s Milan

AP Photosi-16c0957aa6c696ab7a08a76496649558-theron.jpgThe celebs (Ashton Kutcher, Charlize Theron, Will Ferrell, et al) were out.

So was a loud and appreciative crowd of more than 80,000 that braved rush hour traffic and suffocating heat in Pasadena.

i-0a197a454a8ac6d21f07214458640d5f-specialone.jpgAll to see a meaningless friendly between Jose Mourinho’s old club – Chelsea – and his current team, Inter Milan, at the Rose Bowl.

Read the game story here.

I was impressed: clearly there are soccer fans in L.A. with more fortitude than myself.

After working all day, I couldn’t face a 90 minute commute in the withering heat from the South Bay to Pasadena (especially with a Dodger game scheduled) so chose to stay home and snuggle up with a cold one in front of my hi def TV. (And yeah, I know I’m a spoiled wimp of a journalist considering I get to sit in an air-conditioned press box).

Still, it was a fun spectacle from my vantage point – or at least the first half was – despite the less than illuminating color commentary of John “not so brilliant” Harkes and his lingering fake English accent. (How the hell that guy – also responsible for perhaps the most poorly written soccer-related biography of all time keeps his job is beyond me. My biggest pet peeve? When he insists on saying “offsides” when he means offside – singular. Aggh!).

Which is why I was a little surprised to see the tone of this column from co-worker Scott Wolf.

Scott is a huge fan of the European game, owns more replica jerseys than any human being I know and often heads to Europe to take in a few games.

Scott has a lacerating sense of understatement he usually uses to good effect to skewer the deserving, but this one missed the mark (check out the comments at the end of the story).

Do pointy-ball football teams sell out preseason games? Thought not.

When that many people show up to an exhibition game early in pre-season (that one would think could be of questionable quality) on a weekday in these weather conditions at a time when this country is saturated with visiting top-class teams, well, the U.S. soccer community should be saluted, not condemned, for it’s showing.

I know I do. From the comfort of my couch.

Here’s the perspective from England.

And here’s the answer to the question, do these games help soccer grow at the grassroots level? In this case, yes.

Highlights:

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International Soccer Gameday: Chelsea, Inter – & Burnley

In Pasadena at 8 p.m. it’s Chelsea against Inter Milan. The game is live on ESPN2.

i-8b1b6a7d9c9e5208996319dac309b406-terry.jpgJohn Terry’s Chelsea future is still up in the air (AP Photo).

Game preview.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Michael Ballack has returned to England with a broken toe, while trade rumors continue to swirl around John Terry.

Earlier:
Inter go to Hollywood.

The people and nation who will really benefit from tonight’s game.

This author signs copies of his book at the game today.

Meanwhile, up in Ventura at a high school stadium the PDL Ventura County Fusion will play EPL newcomers Burnley. (You can listen to game commentary at the Web site).

Game preview.

More here.

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Galaxy-AC Milan Post-Game

Getty Imagesi-6a686e0a95e6ae7f3a316091b2eb566f-riotsquad.jpg

David Beckham’s first home game back with the Galaxy was (almost) everything you could ask for from a preseason (for Milan) friendly that was more about the show than the result and the money AEG was making from its prize soccer asset.

Was it a coincidence David Beckham was playing against his former and likely future club and looked more interested performing for the Galaxy Sunday night than he did for half of last season?

I think not.

Beckham created both L.A. goals and indeed during the first half he seemed responsible for virtually every Galaxy attack of note in front of as packed a stadium as I’ve ever seen at Home Depot Center (but it nevertheless worked out to exactly an announced 27,000 as usual). It was a pleasure to watch, but somehow it felt more than a little calculated.

Beckham played this game and this crowd like the savvy public relations expert he is. The prestigious event against classy European opposition. Buddy Tom Cruise watching from the stands. And a little slice of anti-hero just to add spice.

i-0f1dc6af9167b0050195f19b9347b81f-becksmilan.jpgDavid Beckham controls the ball against AC Milan defenders Massimo Ambrosini (23) and Mathieu Flamini. (AP Photo).

Beckham even had the obligatory confrontation with the unforgiving Riot Squad just before half time that was suitably provocative and inconsequential enough to bolster, not harm his pseudo-macho image (this is the second game in a row the usually reticent Becks has worn a – gasp- short sleeve soccer jersey that does nothing to hide his tats).

In contrast to what Beckham insisted he yelled at the crowd, one press box colleague related that he was told Becks said a word that starts with “m” and ends with “r” and taunted a fan to come on down and get a piece of him. So the fan did, never made it to the field and got thrown out (but not arrested), according to the Riot Squad message boards.

Notable: Milan Coach Leonardo expressing surprise at the Galaxy tactics given that Beckham was in midfield:

“The first half was very tough for both teams,” he said. “The long balls of the Galaxy was a big surprise to us.”

Really?

The AP game story is here.

Here’s the version in the Daily News, Daily Breeze and other MediaNews Los Angeles Newspaper Group papers.

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Final: Galaxy-AC Milan

Galaxy 2 AC Milan 2

This game petered out after the two second half goals as one might expect, with AC Milan satisfied to share the spoils and the Galaxy with both Landon Donovan and David Beckham subbed out by game’s end never likely to muster enough creativity to score a winner.

The Beckham boos diminished as the night went on and he actually received an ovation from some sections of the stands when subbed in the 71st minute.

I think most fans will say they got their value for money here tonight though – and you can’t say that about every Galaxy game this season.

More later.

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Update: Galaxy-AC Milan

Galaxy 2 AC Milan 2

(Blogging software issues – apologies).

AC Milan showed how fast it could strike in the 61st minute, half time substitute Filippo Inzaghi finishing off a a deadly move of stunning swiftness and simplicity with a shot from 12 yards out that beat sub Josh Saunders in the net. Ronaldhinho had begun the move, getting the ball out wide to Mathieu Flamini.

The Galaxy equalized four minutes later from a David Beckham corner kick taken from the corner in front of the Riot Squad who appeared to be giving him a bad time again.

Becks’ cross found its way through a gaggle of bodies in the box to Bryan Jordan who managed to turn it into the net. Becks gestured to the Riot Squad after the goal, making his point.

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