Beckham confronts fan in home return with Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. -- Boos rained down and fans sent negative messages with their homemade signs. Things sure got ugly when David Beckham came back to town.
Beckham downplayed the rough reception in his first home game with the Los Angeles Galaxy, a 2-2 tie with AC Milan in which his corner kick set up his team's second goal, although his halftime confrontation with a fan indicated otherwise Sunday night.
"I'm not disappointed. It doesn't affect me," he said. "You can't be liked by everyone."
Anti-Beckham sentiment ran high as the English star returned after missing half of the Major League Soccer season while on a five-month loan to the Italian club. He was the target of frequent booing and derisive banners held up in a corner of the stadium, where one of the team's fan groups sits.
The signs all had messages directed at Beckham. "Go home fraud" read one, with a red slash through his No. 23 jersey number. Another said, "23: Repent," while another read, "Hey Becks, Here Before You, Here After You, Here Despite You." Another read, "Is evil something u are...or something u do."
At halftime, Beckham walked toward the L.A. Riot Squad section and motioned to a fan to come closer. A man jumped down from the seats and was subdued by security before being taken away.
"One of the guys was saying things that wasn't very nice. It was stepping over the line," Beckham said. "I said, 'You need to calm down and come shake my hand,' and he jumped over."
The man was arrested by Cal State Dominguez Hills police for trespassing because he left the seating area, a Home Depot Center spokeswoman said.
"I know there was some turmoil in the corner but I didn't see it so I can't comment," Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said. "Obviously, there were some dissenters in the early going but I think he won over a lot of people by the end."
Beckham was the last player to take the field after halftime. He hugged several of his former AC Milan teammates and then turned toward the rowdy fan section and clapped his hands before making a gesture.
The banners weren't displayed as often in the second half, when a line of yellow-jacketed security personnel stood below the fans.
"A lot of people predicted this kind of reaction," Beckham said.
In the 65th minute, Beckham walked toward the fan section to take a corner kick. He sent a bending kick at Bryan Jordan, who headed the ball in from 7 feet to tie the game 2-2.
Beckham didn't join in the play. Instead, he turned and faced the fans who had been riding him all game and spread both arms wide as if to say, "What do you want?" He then gestured before walking away.
"Sometimes the supporters don't understand the situation," AC Milan coach Leonardo said.
Beckham left the game in the 75th minute and clapped his hands as he walked off to a mix of boos and cheers. He waved to fans offering a smattering of cheers in an opposite corner before sitting on the bench.
"The cheers in the end drowned out the boos, which was nice," he said.
It marked the end of a rough week for Beckham that began with him and team captain Landon Donovan accusing each other of being unprofessional. Donovan sparked the dispute with comments he made in a new book "The Beckham Experiment."
Arena mediated the clash during a sit down with both players, who later said they had patched things up.
"That's beyond my control," Donovan said when asked about the crowd's reaction to Beckham.
AC Milan dressed a half-strength lineup as it began a four-game preseason tour of the U.S. The seven-time European champions visited the Galaxy as part of the deal that allowed Beckham to remain on loan with Milan through the end of the Serie A season on May 31.
"You don't want to look silly and we definitely didn't look silly," he said about the Galaxy's play.
Beckham has said he again wants to return to Milan after the MLS season.
"We would be happy if he came back because he did really well. He's incredible," Leonardo said. "The precision he has is something very, very special. He never missed the ball. He controlled the ball. The way the Galaxy plays is very, very important. They see that every ball begins with him."
Thiago Silva put AC Milan ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute. The Galaxy tied the game in the 30th minute on a goal by Alan Gordon, assisted by Donovan and Beckham.
The Rossoneri took a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute when Filippo Inzaghi scored against Galaxy backup goalie Josh Saunders off assists by Mathieu Flamini and Ronaldinho.
"He was integral in both goals," Donovan said about Beckham. "There's not another player on a team in this league that can make those plays. It was an exciting game."
Beckham will play six more regular-season home games.
Earlier this year, Beckham said he wanted to remain with the Italian club rather than return to the Galaxy because he believed the level of play was much better in Europe and would help him achieve his goal of playing for England in the 2010 World Cup.
"If it's possible, I think it could be a very good thing for us," Leonardo said about getting Beckham back. "He knows everyone. Everyone loves him in our club."