CARSON, Calif. – It took 70 minutes for the LA Galaxy’s David Beckham to make his first appearance of the 2010 MLS regular season in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Columbus Crew at The Home Depot Center. And it was only another four minutes before the 35-year-old earned his first yellow card after colliding with the Crew’s Emmanuel Ekpo.
“I know Alex really well,” he said of match referee Alex Prus, who booked him with the yellow card. “I think he was just kind of joking giving it to me. It was just one of those moments.
“Twenty minutes out there on the field, I’m happy with that.”
It was just under six months ago when Beckham tore his left Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan, an injury that forced him to miss out on potentially playing for England in the World Cup and cast even more jeopardy on his chances of playing for the Galaxy this season.
But after months of grueling rehabilitation, he returned to the training field almost four weeks ago and announced last week he had targeted Saturday’s game for his return.
He arrived to The Home Depot Center early, did about 2 1/2 hours of work in the gym to loosen and build up the strength in his left leg and barely could stay seated on the bench once the game started.
It was 20 minutes into the second half when Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena went over to Beckham and asked him if he was ready.
“He came up to me, and he said, ‘How about 10, 15 minutes? We want to get a good 10, 15 minutes,’ ” Beckham said. “I said, ‘Well, how about 20, 25?’ He kind of listened to me and we kind of met in the middle.”
Beckham replaced Juninho and moments later attempted his first shot of the season, a 25-yarder from just outside the top of the penalty area that was blocked by the Crew’s Chad Marshall. It was soon after that when he collided with Ekpo in front of the Crew bench.
“Obviously, it felt great,” Beckham said of playing again. “I’ve never been out of the game for such a long time, and to get back out there in just under six months was a quick recovery. I’m happy with that."
“Being out there for 20 minutes felt good.”
And the Galaxy felt great to have him back.
“David’s presence helps our team,” Arena said. “He helps our team in the locker room, the training field and on game day. It’s kind of remarkable that he’s back on the field in a short period of time."
“September 15 is six months … at his age to come back, the players see that, and I think it’s inspirational to the team. We’re hopeful he can continue to move forward for the remaining five or six weeks of the regular season, and hopefully by playoff time he can be sharp.”
Beckham, who played 45 minutes in a closed scrimmage against Chivas USA on Wednesday, smiled when asked he could play a full match.
“I thought I was ready for 90 minutes months ago,” he said. “I think at the end of the day I still have to take my time being eased into games. I thought I could have played 90 minutes tonight, but after 10 minutes being on the field I felt like I was dying. But I came through it and finished strong. It felt great tonight.”