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Betting on Beckham's ankle
by Ridge Mahoney, July 19th, 2007 7AM

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becks trainsMore than a week prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, a source with ties to SUM said David Beckham won't play against Chelsea Saturday and instead will debut for the Galaxy in the SuperLiga. Galaxy coach Frank Yallop says Beckham's status is "day-to-day," league and team officials have been noncommittal. But as of Wednesday night, the over-under on how many minutes Beckham will play Saturday is 10. He arrived in Los Angeles last Friday with a very tender left ankle and has trained only lightly with the Galaxy this week. He traveled here to Denver to make an appearance on the ESPN broadcast of the All-Star Game against Glasgow Celtic Thursday.

ESPN is also televising the match against Chelsea, to which is it has committed 19 cameras, including one to be isolated on Beckham for the entire game. The telecast is being heavily promoted on ESPN programming and if not for the expected presence of Beckham wouldn't be on the ESPN schedule at all. The game was added to the ESPN schedule once the league agreed to play Celtic, and not Chelsea, in the All-Star Game.

Last year, the MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea, 1-0, and Chelsea has signed partnerships with AEG and the Galaxy.

In addition to the over-under for the Chelsea game is another wager: Will Beckham's screen time during the All-Star telecast exceed his playing time against Chelsea?

Yallop is also leery about using Beckham in the SuperLiga if there are any concerns about his ankle. Los Angeles gets back to league play Aug. 5 with a tough match at Toronto, plays at D.C. United four days later, and concludes its road swing at New England Aug. 12.

The team will allowed to fly charter on that road trip, because the league has softened its stance against teams taking charter flights for MLS matches, citing "security concerns" as a reasonable exception.

President and GM Alexi Lalas says the many friendlies to be played by the Galaxy with Beckham are not subject to league restrictions and the team will travel by charter or private jet.

If MLS sticks to its original ruling restricting teams to commercial flights for league games, Beckham and several veteran players will travel in first class.



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