Beckham's Galaxy debut will likely be delayed
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- David Beckham's long-awaited MLS debut will likely be delayed a bit. Beckham is scheduled to make his first appearance for the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition Saturday night against Chelsea. But a nagging left ankle injury will probably prevent him from playing, he said during halftime of the Major League Soccer All-Star Game outside Denver. "I'm still having a lot of treatment. At the moment it doesn't look good that I'm going to play because the swelling is still there,'' Beckham said during an interview during the ESPN2 telecast. "I'm here for five years. I'm not here just obviously for the game on Saturday. "It's great that Chelsea is here. It's great to have great players, and a great team, great manager here. But I think it's more important for me personally that my ankle is right and I don't think it will be right for the game,'' Beckham said. He left open a sliver of possibility that he'll make an appearance, however. "Maybe I'll play some part toward the end of the game if it's all right, but we'll see,'' he said. Galaxy general manger Alexi Lalas is holding out hope for a quick recovery, too. "We still anticipate that he's going to play [Saturday night], to what extent we don't know,'' Lalas said. "We don't want to do anything that's going to jeopardize the long-term success and his health. He's been getting better every single day. But we're just going to have to wait until the day, and figure it out then.'' So, all hope isn't lost for Saturday night, Lalas insisted. "There's a possibility that's he's going to play. I think it's pretty clear that he wants to play. From the time that he landed here, he was targeting Saturday to play. I think that if there's any chance it's possible, he's going to be out there,'' Lalas said. Beckham originally hurt his ankle playing for England in a European Championship qualifier on June 6 and it flared up again June 17 in his final game with Real Madrid. Lalas said television and sponsors aren't calling the shots when it comes to Beckham's debut. "Nope. Ultimately it's up to our coaching staff and our medical staff to evaluate our players,'' he said. "We all understand there's an incredible amount of interest in this game from television, from sponsors, but this is sports. The sponsors understand that. Regardless of whether David Beckham is or isn't on the field, it's going to be a wonderful moment for us Saturday. But I think we all hope he does get on the field.'' After Chelsea, the Galaxy's next three contests are SuperLiga games, including at home Tuesday night against Pachuca and on Saturday night against CD Guadalajara. The Galaxy then plays at FC Dallas on July 31 before resuming MLS play on Aug. 5 at Toronto FC. "I want to get out there playing as soon as possible,'' Beckham said. American soccer fans might have to get used to Beckham's limited availability, however. Lalas advised the team's fans that Beckham may miss some MLS games because of his obligation to England's national team. In a letter to fans posted this week on the team's Web site, Lalas listed specific dates that Beckham could be called away. They are Aug. 22 for an exhibition game against Germany, and Sept. 8-12, Oct. 13-17 and Nov. 17-21 for European Championship qualifiers. That could mean Beckham misses Galaxy games on Aug. 23 against Chivas USA; Sept. 8 against Colorado; and Oct. 13 against Toronto. The MLS Cup is Nov. 18 at Washington. FIFA, soccer's governing body, mandates that clubs release players to national teams during these times, which are set aside years in advance under the sport's international calendar. Lalas said the Galaxy would not be informed of Beckham's call-up until a few weeks before each game. "We know L.A. Galaxy fans are eager to see David Beckham play, and we're working to ensure that he is available for as many games as possible,'' Lalas wrote. "As MLS continues to attract more international talent, we must also accept that these players will represent their respective countries. International duty is a unique element of professional soccer and emphasizes that we are part of a global game.'' Beckham has regained his place on England's team with his improved play during the country's bid to gain a berth in the 2008 European Championship. England coach Steve McClaren "said to me that if I keep myself fit and I'm playing well, I'll [have] a chance of playing for the national team and that's all I can hope for,'' Beckham said.