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Beckham 'split-season' is official
by Ridge Mahoney, March 9th, 2009 7AM

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[MLS] Becks will be back in MLS this season, but only for a few months. Under terms of an agreement in the works for more than a week and officially announced Sunday, David Beckham will stay with AC Milan until the end of the Serie A season May 31 and return to the United States to finish the 2009 season with the Galaxy.

He will be eligible to play competitive matches for the Galaxy when the U.S. transfer window opens on July 15 and MLS is wasting no time; to accommodate a July 19 friendly between Milan and Galaxy that will partially compensate MLS and AEG for the loss of Beckham, it has changed the date of the Galaxy's road game against New York to July 16.

"We are excited that we will host AC Milan for our fans and look forward to entertaining them at The Home Depot Center on July 19th," said AEG president Tim Leiweke. "This certainly sets the stage for a great season for our fans and we truly appreciate their patience as we have worked through all of our issues."

The deal extends Beckham's loan, which had been due to expire Monday. He will not count against the Galaxy's salary cap nor its roster limit until he returns. At the end of the MLS season, under a clause in his contract, he will be free to leave the Galaxy and MLS.

"I'm really grateful to the LA Galaxy and AC Milan for making this dream deal happen," said Beckham. "It allows me to play for AC Milan and the LA Galaxy in the same year, and also to continue my commitment to develop soccer in the United States, which is something I am passionate about."

The Galaxy, which had increased season ticket prices by 20 to 30 percent when Beckham signed in 2007, has announced a rollback (10 percent on average) on ticket prices for the upcoming season.

Beckham played his ninth Serie A match for Milan Sunday, a 3-0 defeat of Atalanta. He has scored two goals for Milan, which is 4-2-3 with Beckham in the lineup. Now, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena can count on Beckham for his lineups, too, as well as Landon Donovan, whose loan stint at Bayern Munich ended during the weekend.

"During the offseason, we began the process of improving our roster and the moves that we have made so far place us in a position to be more successful this season," said Arena. "David is truly an outstanding player and I am confident that his presence will strengthen our roster in the last half of the season as we push for a playoff position."

Beckham scored five goals and was credited with 10 assists while playing 25 league games for the Galaxy past year. He will miss the first 17 games of the MLS 2009 season to stay with Milan, and could miss more games if he is called by England national team coach Fabio Capello for international matches in late summer and the fall.

 



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