Beckham's Galaxy team-mates blame injuries for defeats
Another city, another match, another defeat. The Los Angeles Galaxy bandwagon stumbles on, like an unfunny parody of the American tourist in Europe: "If it's Sunday, this must be Colorado". To be precise it was at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado, that the Galaxy went down 3-0 to the Rapids.
A sell-out crowd filled Dick's Park, but although the home side won many will have left disappointed. There was a former Manchester United winger on the pitch, but it was Terry Cooke, also ex-Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday and England Under-21. Cooke's former Old Trafford team-mate, David Beckham, did not even travel to Commerce City, let alone sit on the bench, or appear on-pitch. His bold, some would say foolhardy attempt to play two matches, on either side of the Atlantic, in less than 36 hours last week aggravated his ankle injury.
That is the ankle injury which has dogged him since playing for England in Estonia in May. Beckham's subsequent schedule has left him unable to recover, and no wonder. Even his Galaxy team-mates are pleading exhaustion, and they are not jetting off to England for extra matches every few weeks. A by-product of Beckham's arrival is that the Galaxy have been presented with a schedule which would test any team. Their fixture list was rearranged to maximise the number of away games in which Beckham would appear. They were also invited to play in two mid-season tournaments, the World Series of Football (including Chelsea) and the Superliga, an American-Mexican competition.
As a consequence Galaxy have a playing and travelling schedule that leaves no time for recuperation, or even training. They could not muster a full complement of substitutes on Sunday. Afterwards Frank Yallop, the increasingly disillusioned coach, spoke out.
"We had eight starters out," the former Ipswich player said. "We have five or six guys that are injured that played today, and they shouldn't be playing. They played, and in the end it costs you the game. It's ridiculous. We should have called this game off. But we can't. We have to play it, and away we go." As well as Beckham Yallop was without the only other recognisable names in his squad, Landon Donovan and Abel Xavier, with Cobi Jones only fit to make the bench.
Yallop is regarded as history with Jurgen Klinsmann among those sounded out for his job. Galaxy have not won in seven MLS games, losing the last five in succession and shipping 11 goals in their last three matches. With 14 points from 18 games they are 19 points adrift of the eight-team play-offs. But it is hard not to sympathise given the schedule. Galaxy have played eight games in 27 days, six of them away: Dallas, Toronto, Washington, Boston, New York, Colorado.
Donovan, who was playing for the US in Sweden on Wednesday, while Beckham was playing at Wembley, said: "I can't remember, maybe ever in the history of professional soccer, that a team has had more games in closer succession with travel, with injuries. It sounds like excuses but we're humans, not robots. Eventually guys are going to break down. They can't expect to dump this on us, with all the traveling, and expect us to win."
In the circumstances Galaxy could have done without playing in mid-afternoon, in 92F, a mile above sea level on the biggest pitch in the MLS. The game was over before half-time, Conor Casey (26), Colin Clark and Mike Petke scoring without reply. Galaxy play again tomorrow, at home to Mexican club Pachuca, in the SuperLiga final.