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Galaxy saga has new turns

Injury may delay debut of Beckham, and former Real Madrid coach considers a job in U.S.

July 17, 2007|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

The rapidly unfolding David Beckham story took a couple of new twists Monday, one of them expected, the other somewhat surprising.

First, it appears quite possible that Beckham will not make his debut for the Galaxy against Chelsea at the Home Depot Center on Saturday as planned. Everything depends on the status of his injured left ankle, and on Monday it was still swollen and sore.

Also, Fabio Capello, Beckham's former coach at Real Madrid, revealed that he had been offered an undisclosed position in the United States.

"They have contacted me," Capello told Gazzetta Dello Sport in Milan, without revealing who made the offer. "However, I must think about it.

"It would be a new experience that would intrigue me, not for the money but to see if anyone could make American soccer take off."

There was immediate speculation that Capello might be headed to the Galaxy, to reunite with Beckham and to take the place of Coach Frank Yallop. It is equally possible -- and perhaps more likely -- that Capello, 61, is being targeted by U.S. Soccer as someone who could fill the planned technical director position overseeing all U.S. national teams.

"I hope it's not here," Yallop joked Monday. "It's nice to know that he's interested in coming over. He's a very, very good manager and coach. It'll be good if we can get him in this country."

Yallop was less upbeat with the short-term outlook for Beckham, who donned a Galaxy uniform for the first time Monday but did not participate fully in the team's workout at the stadium that attracted an estimated 1,000 fans and a larger-than-usual media contingent.

Beckham did 45 minutes of very light work, not with the team but either alone with trainer Ivan Pierra or in conjunction with injured defender Chris Albright.

He also did some stretching exercises with new teammates Kyle Veris, Edson Buddle and Quavas Kirk. He did a little ball juggling, took one or two jogs across the field but did not sprint, did not strike the ball and engaged in no physical contact. It was more an appearance than a training session.

Asked whether it was possible that Beckham would remain on the bench, or even in a luxury suite, on Saturday, Yallop said: "There's always a possibility that he will not be playing because of his injury, but hopefully he will be.

"We're not going to force him to play. That would be wrong. If he's ready to play, he will, but we'll wait and see. We won't put him in any danger of making it long-term."

Later Monday night, Beckham acknowledged that the ankle was swollen and confirmed that he might not play but added, "Hopefully I'll be all right."

Beckham injured the ankle while playing for England in a Euro 2008 qualifying game against Estonia in early June and was still suffering the effects when he helped Real Madrid win the Spanish league championship on June 17.

He has not played a game since then but did start working out on his own while on holiday in the south of France.

Yallop said Beckham's flight to Los Angeles from England on Thursday had not helped matters, and that the ankle had swollen because of the flight and possibly because Beckham had started running on it "maybe a little bit too soon."

"With ankles, they do tend to clear up pretty quickly, if there's no structural damage, which there isn't," Yallop said.

"It's just that swelling and that soreness that he's got to get out of his system."

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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