CARSON, Calif. – When the LA Galaxy took the field this week for the first time in 2011, two players were not yet in camp.
One, 16-year-old forward Jack McBean, is a prospect who likely won’t contend for a starting spot soon. The other is one of the team’s key figures and a critical part of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup chances.
Like he has each of the past two seasons, David Beckham was not with the Galaxy at the start of the club’s preseason. Training with Tottenham Hotspur, Beckham has been getting ready for the 2011 MLS season in his native England while the Galaxy begin preparations without him half a world away.
That he’s not around, though, doesn’t exactly concern his teammates.
“I would normally say yeah, but every year we’ve spent significant time without David, whether it’s been injuries or he’s been away,” said Landon Donovan, when asked if it mattered whether Beckham was going to miss time with the team. “This team knows how to gel quickly and David conversely does a good job of coming into the team. The expectation is to have him back relatively soon.”
Just when Beckham is supposed to return is unknown, even to Galaxy officials.
“He'll be back this month, the exact date we haven't finalized but he'll be back in February,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
Beckham’s only full season thus far has been 2008, the only one of his four full campaigns where he did not seek out a loan. After spending the first half of 2009 and 2010 with AC Milan, Beckham unsuccessfully sought out a loan to Spurs this January.
While the deal never materialized, Donovan said he would not expect Beckham to return with any negativity.
“He has never been that kind of guy who is going to moan,” Donovan said. “When he’s here, he wants to play, he wants to win. I’m sure the day he gets back here he’s going to be ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Arena said Beckham’s offseason needs were met even if he isn’t around to start the preseason with the Galaxy.
“One thing he needed was, he needed a break,” Arena said. “He worked real hard just to get back on the field last year coming off his Achilles injury. I think he needed some time away from the game. Then he also needed a slow buildup into the season and I think he's getting that.”