CARSON, Calif. – At the rate he's progressing, David Beckham's playing time will increase quickly over the next few weeks.
Beckham played for the second time in as many weeks when he came on in the 53rd minute of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 2-1 comeback victory over D.C. United last Saturday. It wasn’t exactly effortless, though.
“It was a good workout for myself,” Beckham said. “I was puffing a little bit more than I was last week, but it was more minutes on the field and that’s what I need.”
In five weeks then, Beckham has gone from not having trained with team at all to playing a large portion of the second half. That he’s back playing and in the mix at all in mid-September is something that may soon be taken as a given, but Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said perspective is important.
“Again, we need to appreciate [that] this is a player that six months ago tore his Achilles tendon,” Arena said. “To be back this quickly and be able to contribute what he has the last two games I think is very impressive. He’s ahead of schedule.”
Beckham’s fitness level is still a ways from being to where he would like it to be, he said. Regaining the strength in his tendon is one thing, but Beckham’s overall fitness took a massive hit as well. Hobbling around in a cast and recently torn Achilles tendon, there wasn’t much he could do.
“When you’ve been out for six months, and obviously with this kind of injury, it’s hard to do too much workout while you’re rehabbing it,” Beckham said. “For four months, I probably didn’t do hardly anything and then try to step it up. It’s going to take a while to get my match fitness and [Saturday] helps.”
How much Beckham plays against New York on Friday is likely undetermined. Arena had said he would like for his star player to incrementally increase his playing time, and in the matter of two weeks, he has almost doubled his time on the field.
Whether Beckham comes on as a second-half substitute, replaces someone at halftime or comes on in the first half remains to be seen. A start against New York would seem a leap too big to take at this point, but starting and playing 90 minutes is in Arena’s crosshairs.
“Our goal is to get him completely match-fit by playoff time,” Arena said. “I think we’re ahead of the curve. … If everything goes well and there are no setbacks, he should be on schedule.”