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Arena: Beckham is playing
by Ridge Mahoney, November 19th, 2011 2:24AM

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TAGS:  houston dynamo, los angeles galaxy, mls

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[MLS CUP COUNTDOWN] David Beckham has missed the Galaxy’s Thursday and Friday practice sessions but isn’t expected to sit out MLS Cup on Sunday.

“He's playing on Sunday,” the Galaxy coach Bruce Arena told reporters after a 75-minute session Friday morning.

About an hour later, when informed Beckham had skipped training, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear concurred. “He’s playing,” declared Kinnear. Arena also said that Beckham would participate in training on Saturday.

On Thursday, Arena had attributed Beckham’s absence to a cold and was a precautionary measure. During the playoffs, he hasn’t seemed bothered by back spasms and other minor health issues that have plagued him this season.

The range and workrate of teammates Robbie Keane, Juninho, Mike Magee and Chris Birchall have lessened the burden on the 36-year-old Englishman , who last week was named 2011 Comeback Player of the Year.

"I'll be honest with you, I don't think David Beckham needs to train for another day in his career for the most part," Arena said, "and I just want David to be 100 percent on Sunday."

BECKHAM’S LEGACY. During two days of intense media questioning just about every Galaxy player and coach has been asked if Beckham’s stay in MLS will be tarnished if Los Angeles fails in what is expected to be his final shot at winning a league title.

The general consensus is this result won’t smudge five years that changed the game in North America.  “I don’t think this league would be anywhere close to where it is now without him,” said Magee. “The effort he’s put into making this league recognizable around the world and the game he’s even played on the field has helped the league grow a tremendous amount and it wouldn’t have done that without him.”

Says Arena, “To be honest, I haven’t spent any time thinking that out. But I would say that in my view, David has been a complete home run for MLS for the attention he’s brought to our league, to the fans he’s brought to our stadiums, home and away, and for the contribution he’s made on the field.

“I’ve had him for three years and our team has been in the MLS Cup final twice and in the conference final every year. I think David has proven his value on and off the field.”

As for the man himself, he’d rather not leave -- if he is leaving -- MLS without at least one trophy in his five-year stint in MLS. “I think you always feel unfulfilled if you don’t win a trophy,” he told Yahoo Sports. “No matter where I have played … people asked the same question in my fourth year at Real Madrid and I ended it winning a trophy. The last three years have been successful but I want to win the final. Everyone wants to win it. We need to be ready.”

ROAD REVERSAL. After failing to win any of its 15 road games, the Dynamo has set a team record by winning four straight.  Houston broke the drought Sept. 24 in Dallas and won again at Portland Oct. 14 in
its last regular-season away match.

In the playoffs, Houston won its away leg in Philly, 2-1, and in the one-game conference final in Kansas City, the Dynamo overcame the loss of midfielder Brad Davis to a torn quadriceps injury in the first half by scoring twice in the second half to win, 2-0.



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