CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s David Beckham, fresh off a hard-earned 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, said he’s looking forward to the MLS All-Star Game on July 27 in New York “against the best team in Manchester and the best team in England.”
But before Beckham can enjoy the privilege of facing his former team, Manchester United – with whom he played 12 seasons -- he’ll have to face that other team from Manchester, Manchester City, in a high-profile friendly on Sunday at 1 p.m. at The Home Depot Center (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com) as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge.
Beckham understandably said he needs no extra motivation to take on the defending FA Cup champion.
“There’s motivation in every game that we play,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing against Columbus, Real Madrid (a 4-1 winner last Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum) or Man City.
“It’s just another game and just a game I’m sure the players will enjoy.”
The fact that he’s facing a team from his home country doesn’t make it any more special either, he pointed out.
“No, because it’s Man City,” he said with a grin. “All joking aside, it’s going to be great for our fans to see some of their great players and a great experience for our team as well.”
Manchester City has won their first two games of the Challenge, including a 2-0 victory over Club America in San Francisco last Saturday and a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Monday in a game that was almost postponed because of poor field conditions.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he anticipates the Premier League powerhouse to be more motivated than usual for Sunday’s match.
“I know Man City is going to be pretty eager to play,” he said. “They had a little bit of a fiasco in Vancouver with the field. That means they’re going to have their best players ready to give 90 minutes on Sunday on a field that’s pretty good, and they’re going to be able to show what they can do.
“I think unfortunately we’re going to be recipients of facing a team that’s going to be ready to play and motivated.”
Arena said he enjoys these types of games, particularly those with little or nothing at stake.
“I love any game that I could either watch or coach in that we don’t have to win,” he said. “I don’t get that many in my life. I enjoy that, and I think that’s how the players approach it and give their best effort.
“I’m really going to enjoy it this Sunday.”
It’s clear his players will as well.
“If you don’t, you’re crazy,” Mike Magee said, who missed Saturday’s game against Real Madrid with a hamstring injury but returned to the field on Wednesday against the Crew. “To see all the fans and how much they love it, it’s amazing. Immediately after the game you’re on cloud nine after matching up against some of these guys.
“It’s definitely awesome.
“Sometimes I feel like when you first see it on the schedule, you wish you had that weekend off and the tendency is to think of it as a pain with all the league games. But when you get out there on the field and see all these guys you looked up, it’s hard to beat.
“It brings out the best in you, which is what you want.”
Defender Gregg Berhalter said his Galaxy teammates should consider themselves fortunate because of the scheduling of these much-anticipated friendlies.
“The level of competition is unbelievable,” he said. “Any time you can play two of the biggest teams in the world in the span of a week, you’re lucky as a soccer player.”
Photos: Galaxy, Manchester City Press Conference
The Galaxy face Manchester City in their second and final game of the Herbalife World Football Challenge on Sunday, July 24 at 1 p.m. at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are available for that match as low as $30. Visit lagalaxy.com/worldfootballchallenge for more information.