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Landon Donovan: 'None of us should judge Beckham'
by Ridge Mahoney, February 23rd, 2011 11:36PM
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[MLS] Some time this week, perhaps as early as Thursday, David Beckham will drive to Home Depot Center in one of his luxury vehicles and train with the Galaxy for the first time this year. He trained for the last time on Monday with Tottenham, where he stayed an extra few weeks despite Spurs and the Galaxy failing to agree on a loan deal.

There’s been nothing announced by the Galaxy in regards to a fine for refusing to report for preseason training, as would be obligatory for just about any other superstar athlete without extenuating circumstances beyond that of what David wants to do, he does.

How this sits with his coaches and teammates won’t be known for a while, but if they take the lead of Landon Donovan, the issue will be closed if he trains hard and plays well. Donovan surely wants to avoid the farcical soap opera of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, when whatever could go wrong, did go wrong, and the occasional flare-ups since.

“The only person who knows what’s going on and what the real story is, is David,” said Donovan last week from Arizona, where the Galaxy trained until Tuesday. “You have to assume he’s doing what he feels is best to get ready for the season. At the end of the day, would we love him to be here? Yes. He’s doing what he thinks is right for himself and none of us should judge that. We’ll be happy when he gets back. We’re obviously looking forward to playing with him.”

Donovan maintained the theme that in the past four years the Galaxy has played with and without Beckham for brief stints and long stretches, so his absence during preseason isn’t likely to impair team chemistry. That could be an issue had Beckham just joined MLS.

“If this was the first year, I’d say it would be,” said Donovan. "We’re used to having him here and also used to not having him here.

“It’s the same as when he and I go away with the national team, the [Galaxy] knows how to play with and without us. Last year, when I was gone during the summer, we had three wins and a loss, and the loss was a game we should have won. The team knows how to function. Whenever he gets here, he knows how to do the things he needs to do to get ready.

“We still have our core of 12, 13, or 14 guys who were here last year. We understand how he plays and I think it’ll be seamless. Well, everyone has their own individual situation, right, and for me to judge that would be hypocritical, because last year I went to Everton and played for three months and came back right before the season and nobody judged me on it.”

There’s a vast difference in those situations; Donovan’s loan to Everton was approved by MLS and the Galaxy, whereas this latest fling with Spurs rankled and embarrassed his AEG employers. Still, all has been quiet since discussions of a loan ended, though AEG president Tim Leiweke’s insistence that he blocked the loan so Beckham would be on hand for the start of preseason training utterly
failed to accomplish that objective. The deal died when Tottenham and AEG couldn’t come to terms regarding compensation and insurance premium payments; suspicions that AEG deliberately set the bar so high it knew Spurs would balk aren’t incorrect, according to a source.

Donovan insists none of that will affect him and his teammates. “David is a good human being and I think he genuinely cares about our team,” he says. “People may think otherwise but he makes our team better. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you our team chemistry is better when he’s not here.

“We would certainly be gaining something if we had him here for the past few weeks but he’s still going to be here three-plus weeks before the season starts. That’s plenty of time from a team-bonding standpoint to get things right.”

According to Donovan, this isn’t a case of a jaded, older player delaying his arrival as long as possible to avoid the severe fitness and preparation regiment of preseason. He expects Beckham to display the zeal and desire that spurred him to recover from a torn Achilles' tendon in time to play seven games at the tail end of last season, which upped his appearances in MLS matches (including playoffs) to 55.

“The thing about David that’s actually different from a lot of the other older guys is that he genuinely loves to play,” says Donovan. “You can see it. He trains like he’s a 20-year-old and he’s trying to make the team. That’s infectious; guys see that and guys like that. We’re very fortunate that we have that and our goal is helps us the entire year and contribute consistently, like he has when he’s had a good run of games for us. He can be a big help for us.

“Whenever he gets here, he knows how to do the things he needs to do to get ready.”

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
    Ridge: There is still one missing piece from your story. What was the role of Beckham in the failed attempt at landing the Olympic stadium. Was he a part of the joined effort of Tottenham and AEG? Did this factor in his staying there until now? We need to hear from AEG president Tim Leiweke about it. Transparency, please.
  1. Bob Escobar
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 10:29 a.m.
    Beckham is been a completely farce, this guy made so much money for what?....nothing, he hasn't helped soccer in America, the youth in America thinks he sucks, he is old, can't run, his free kicks don't have the accuracy once had, can't dribble even if his life depends on, he is ALWAYS INJURED, shows up late to camp while his teammates with the exception of Donovan make barely enough money to survive in this economy....this crap always happens in American soccer, MLS bringing OLD useless players, way past their prime and paying them outrageous amount of money....I'm glad I canceled my MLS TV package 3 years ago :)
  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
    Beckham is not worth all the money and media interest.
  1. Mike Gaire
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
    Ridge, I think your overlooking the fact that Bruce Arena stated publicly that Beckham's extended stay at Spurs to train with them was known about and agreed to by The Galaxy BEFORE it happened. I have high hopes that David will have a great season this year with the Galaxy and also high hopes that Nicolas Anelka will join MLS this season too and that Anelka and Henry can catch some headlines and take some of the uneccessary hipe off Beckham.
  1. Quan Bui
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
    MLS will always the 2nd rate league if it allows any player to dictate when, where he will show up for training. Beckham was never a great player. Good yes, but great are you kidding me???? I will take Xavi, Schweinsteiger over this deadbeat specialist. MLS is a retread of NASL of the 70's. I don't bring my daughters to watch Galaxy. I take them to the local college games.
  1. Rita Cocking
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 1:32 p.m.
    May I remind you that if David Beckham had not been persuaded to sign for LAy then very few people outside the USA would even be aware of their existance!Do you honestly think that Thierry Henry would have even considered signing for New York Red Bulls if it had not been for Becks? And don't tell me that LA Galaxy have not made substantial amounts of money from having Beckham at their club.I can't help feeling that LA Galaxy were at least partly responsible for David Beckham missing out on playing for England in the last World Cup by allowing him to play for most of the 2009 season carrying a significant injury culminating in him being allowed to play for 120 minutes in the MLS final with not only an injured ankle but also with a chest infection which led to him having to use his asthma inhaler at the end of the match,something I had never seen him do before.So don't be surprise if at the end of the season David Beckham opts to go back to the EPL where he will be appreciated and respected and not exploited as he seems to have been by the MLS.
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.
    Amici sportivi...leave Becks alone...find me a better distributor of the ball in the MLS...MLS paid big bucks to sign him and his marketing has repaid it...find me an MLS player who has more pitch for Bob Escobar, you no doubt cancelled your MLS prescription because u were tired of listening to the longwinded commentary and watching so many turnovers, and that's the truth.
  1. Julian Peppitt
    commented on: February 24, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.
    I have read quite a number of articles over the past few weeks on this website and quite frankly it is an embarrassment. Not once have I read an article that is balanced, with views from both side and the journalist given a fair unbiased view. This is especially the case with David Beckham, Ridge and is colleagues are clearly jealous and seem to have hatred of him. Personally I think he made a great mistake moving to MLS, he could have stayed in Europe and had plenty of success playing for the likes of Milan and Real Madrid amongst others. Could one of you "haters" please answer this; If Beckham is so overrated, so hyped, and is a terrible player, why is it that so many clubs in Europe want him, Milan and Tottenham being but two That same AC Milan, who are one of the most famous and greatest clubs in the world and even in the last decade they have won 2 Champion League titles and can are currently sitting atop of Serie A
  1. Margaret Manning
    commented on: February 25, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.
    Beckham does what he wants, like a petulant child. Landon is right, they play with him or without him, mostly because he has never been a teammate. What was Arena to do? Say he didn't want Beckham to stay at Spurs and then have Beckham defy him openly? The European teams want Beckham for the same reason the Galaxy did--to sell jerseys and for the hype. I find it nauseating. God bless the remaining true Galaxy fans. This too shall pass.
  1. Rita Cocking
    commented on: February 27, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.
    When the American courts allow all and sundry to malign Beckham and call him a serial philanderer and he is not even allowed to repudiate this, is it any wonder that he wants to get of of the USA?

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