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Galaxy could lose Beckham for extended period

CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham limped up the tunnel after the Los Angeles Galaxy's 4-3 penalty kick loss to Pachuca in the SuperLiga final. His team had fought valiantly without him and had the championship on the toe of Landon Donovan, but it was all for naught, like much of the Galaxy's season.

After the Galaxy received their runner-up medals, Beckham quickly removed his.

"I wasn't being disrespectful, but I hate losing," Beckham said. "It's something that I've done before when I've lost in the final."

Beckham was emotional and visibly upset during the postgame press conference, or perhaps he was in pain due to his injured right knee. He stared off into middle distance, his brow furrowed, while coach Frank Yallop answered questions.

"It's difficult," Yallop said of his squad. "They're absolutely spent. They've given everything they have."

Yallop spoke of Beckham as an inspiration.

"He's playing with an injury. He shouldn't be playing, to be honest, but he's playing," the coach said. "That shows the character of him. And it shows the character of the team, because he lifts the team when he plays. Each game he's played, we've played well. That's what we wanted from David, and he gives that to us."

At least he did until he went down with an injury.

"It looked like his knee when he went into the tackle," Yallop said. "We'll see what it's like in the morning. I'm a little worried."

Yallop has reason to be, since Beckham himself, normally quite buoyant, didn't sound optimistic: "At the moment, it's a ligament strain. I'm going to have a scan tomorrow and we'll see the full extent of what it is and how long I'll be out. At the moment, it doesn't feel great."

One injury has led to another, apparently.

"I went into the tackle," Beckham said, "and whether I was compensating for my left ankle, which everyone knows is not fully fit -- so whether I compensated and had gone into the tackle a little bit weaker than I would have done had I been fully fit, I don't know."

Realistically, the Galaxy's season has ended, and Beckham more or less conceded the point, hinting that he would take some time to recuperate.

"It's just gone from one thing to another thing," he said. "Maybe it's a sign for me to say I need the rest and get it right and don't come back until it's right."

Beckham's self-diagnosis was grim: "A ligament strain -- that's four to six weeks. We'll have to see."

Despite his injury, Beckham hobbled back to support his teammates.

Beckham was on the training table when Chris Klein's improbable equalizer went in during stoppage time. Like Beckham, Klein has a young son.

Said Beckham: "I said to [Klein] of his little son in the crowd, 'I'm sure that he's very proud of his dad for scoring a scissor kick like that.' Obviously, when it came to extra time, I needed to be out there on the field and cheer on the lads as much as I could."

In the end, the Galaxy might have bonded through this arduous season.

"They showed a lot of character, character that a lot of people probably didn't believe was there after seeing so many other games that we've played in," Beckham said. "If we take that into the league games, then we do have a chance of qualifying. It's going to be difficult, because the lads are really down."

Facing what remains of the season without their new captain will only add to the Galaxy's woes, but the reality is that Beckham probably needs the rest.

Andrea Canales covers MLS and women's college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She also writes for soccer365.com and contributes to a blog, Sideline Views. She can be contacted at soccercanales@yahoo.com.