CARSON, Calif. — To an uninformed observer, Monday’s Los Angeles Galaxy training session would have led to one conclusion: David Beckham is ready to play.
After all, Beckham did not train apart from the team as he has been doing regularly since returning to the practice field for the first time on Aug. 11. No heel-strengthening exercises. No stretching under the watchful eyes of strength and conditioning coaches. Nothing but the same drills the rest of the team was running through.
While Beckham looked very much like the rest of his teammates, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena shot down any notion of a prompt return for the former England captain.
“He’s making progress but he’s got a way to go still,” Arena said. “We’re not ready to think that he can play yet.”
Beckham tore his Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan in mid-March. Less than five months after, he returned to the field and trained with the Galaxy. While the return was earlier than expected, putting a rush on his first game back is a bit too ambitious for the LA boss.
The Galaxy’s Sept. 4 match at Chicago is the first game Beckham is eligible to play but it seems unlikely he will end up making the trip to the Windy City.
“That’s too early,” Arena said. “I think every week we just have to follow his progress and see how he’s doing. There’s no way of telling how he’s going to be.”
The same could be said Gregg Berhalter. The veteran central defender missed last weekend’s trip San Jose match due to flu-like symptoms. He did not practice with the squad Monday, and Arena said he was not sure what ailed his center back.
“I don’t know exactly what it is,” Arena said. “I don’t think the doctors know either.”
Leaving Berhalter home on the weekend did not really do much to speed up his recovery process, and Arena expects the veteran to miss Saturday’s home match against the Kansas City Wizards.
“Nothing has changed since the last time we’ve seen him,” Arena said. “He’s ill. We don’t know exactly what it is. That’s the job of the doctors.”
While Beckham and Berhalter aren’t ready to go, one of the Galaxy’s key players might be. Todd Dunivant, whose last two games were the first two games he’s missed all season, trained at full speed.
“It should be the case,” Arena said when asked if Dunivant would play a role in Saturday’s game against Kansas City. “We’ll see how he gets through the week.”