Beckham's shift to central midfield pays off for LA
CARSON, Calif. – Against Philadelphia this past Saturday, LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was a force throughout the match. That's probably not too surprising. But where he lined up for the game is.
Beckham spent the night patrolling the center of the midfield instead of his normal right-sided role, and the move paid off as the match what was hailed as this English superstar’s performance of the season.
“David played well,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the match. “We’re getting him back in the kind of form he needs to be in, in terms of his fitness. We played him centrally and I think he did a good job. He helps our passing and I was pretty impressed with his effort [Saturday], much improved from the first three games.”
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: LA Galaxy 1, Philadelphia 0
From the middle of the park, Beckham was able to dictate the pace and rhythm of the match. He assisted on the only goal of the game, off a set piece in the 33rd minute, but was equally as important in the run of play.
The topic of a tactical adjustment came up easily enough.
“Bruce just said to me, ‘Do you want to try something different?’" Beckham said Saturday. "We did and I think it worked well. We kept the ball well, we passed the ball around well and we created chances.”
It’s not something he was timid about undertaking.
“I’ve played that position a number of times before, whether it be for Man. United, Real Madrid and England,” he said. “I know that I can play that position.”
With Beckham playing more centrally, the responsibility to play on the right side will likely fall on Chris Birchall’s shoulders. Against the Union, Birchall did well on the right flank to slow Philadelphia’s build-up from their left side.
WATCH: Postgame reaction from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and players
About the only hindrance to whether Beckham will play on the right or in the middle in their next match is Birchall’s red card – he was sent off against Philadelphia and will miss Saturday’s match at D.C. United. But overall, Birchall said the move works well for the team.
“Bruce has said all season really, I could play on the right or David can and we can interchange and sometimes when he gets the ball, he drifts,” Birchall said. “We need him on the ball and he drifts wide so we kind of interact and talking for each other and it’s good. We need him on the ball. We need our best players on the ball.”
Beckham could become an even more influential player on the club now, should Arena line him up in the middle of the field, and given the player’s performance on Saturday the lineup could feature Beckham in the middle more often.
“He’s obviously a player with quality and experience and we should throw him right in the middle of everything,” Arena said. “Giving him that kind of responsibility was certainly something he could deal with. Tonight, he demonstrated that.”