The LA Galaxy returned to the practice field at the Home Depot Center on Tuesday with decidedly mixed emotions.
They were happy to welcome back team captain Landon Donovan, who had just returned to the club after his successful 10-week loan with Everton. But for every joke they made about Donovan's pale complexion there were concerns for fallen teammate David Beckham, who will be sidelined for several months after tearing his left Achilles tendon in AC Milan's 1-0 victory over Chievo on Sunday.
"It's heartbreaking," forward Alan Gordon said. "There's just not a lot you can say ... it's a terrible, terrible thing. I know how much it meant to him and how much he's done to try and make it happen for this World Cup for England. For it to happen like that, it's heartbreaking."
Beckham had what was called successful surgery on Monday in Finland and now faces a lengthy recovery.
A number of Galaxy players have tried to reach Beckham to offer their support to the popular 34-year-old who was trying to play in a record fourth World Cup for England this summer in South Africa. His international career now appears to be over.
"I'm devastated for him," defender Todd Dunivant said. "He's worked so hard to be on the England team again. He's really pushed himself. He was going to be on that team ... no way you could have counted him out of that. For him to put all that work in and for that to happen on such a freak play, you have to throw your hands up.
"There's nothing you can really say or do about it."
Beckham was hurt during a non-contact play. Head coach Bruce Arena said he knew the injury was serious the moment he saw what happened.
"The second he did it I thought he blew out his Achilles," Arena said. "You feel for him and you feel for his family, all the sacrifices they've made trying to bring this to fruition. I feel bad for him, but knowing David he's going to put all that past him and take a real positive approach to getting back on the field."
There are some concerns that the injury potentially could be career-threatening, but Galaxy players would beg to differ.
"No chance," Mike Magee said. "In terms of his body and fitness, nobody treats himself as well as he does. I wouldn't be worried about that at all."
Clint Mathis, who is about to turn 34, isn't concerned either. He's had a number of knee surgeries, including one earlier in training camp, and he has no intention of hanging up his cleats.
"Obviously the older you get the might have some nagging stuff," he said. "But I've been through seven or eight knee surgeries and somehow keep coming back.
"David's been fortunate in his career without too many injuries, so I think he's going to be able to bounce back from this one. I definitely don't think this is going to hold David back from playing anymore."
But playing again for England is another story. Almost to a player, Galaxy teammates expressed their remorse for Beckham being unable to play for his country again.
"I feel sorry for a guy that's chasing his dream and having it end like that," goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts said. "It's very unfortunate."
Larry Morgan is a contributor to MLSnet.com.