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GALAXY 1, CHIVAS USA 0

David Beckham's presence trumps game

Midfielder watches after earlier saying he and Landon Donovan will chat about feud. Edson Buddle scores in the first half.

July 12, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

David Beckham, along with former Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane, spent part of Saturday night in Carson, watching the Galaxy defeat Chivas USA, 1-0.

Beckham was there because he pretty much had to be after living the good life in Milan, Italy, for the last six months or so. He had flown to Los Angeles on Friday.

Zidane, a World Cup winner and three-time FIFA world player of the year, was there out of friendship and curiosity. Not that Beckham could tell him much about the Galaxy.

Things have changed quite a bit since Beckham left on his Italian sojourn. In fact, seven of the 11 players who started for the Galaxy on Saturday night were not with the team when the English midfielder left on loan to AC Milan.

Beckham was mildly interested in all seven, but especially interested in one of the players who was with the Galaxy in December, the one in the No. 10 jersey, the one named Landon Donovan.

The two have a bit of a feud going, nothing more than a verbal spat, but a bit more interesting than Saturday's dull game.

Earlier on Saturday, Beckham and Zidane had taken part in a promotional event in El Segundo, where Beckham took the opportunity to answer criticisms aimed at him by Donovan in a book to be released Tuesday.

"It's unprofessional, in my eyes," Beckham said of disparaging remarks made about him in "The Beckham Experiment," written by Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl. Among those remarks, Donovan questioned Beckham's commitment to the Galaxy, accusing him of "switching off" on the MLS team.

"In every football player's eyes throughout the world it would be unprofessional to speak out about a teammate, especially in the press and not to your face," Beckham told reporters.

Donovan had told The Times last week that he regretted making the comments he did to Wahl rather than directly to Beckham, who said Saturday he would try to patch the rift between them.

"In 17 years, I have played with the biggest teams in the world and the biggest players and not once have I been criticized for my professionalism," he said. "It's important to get this cleared up, and I will be speaking to Landon either this evening or over the next couple of days.

"Me and Landon will talk, but that will be a private conversation."

That's too bad, because the league could really use a bit more spice, a bit more zest.

There was little enough of it in front of a less-than-sellout announced throng of 23,409 Saturday night. The drums were beating but the pulses were not.

The goal came at exactly the 30-minute mark when Galaxy right back A.J. DeLaGarza sent a cross in from the right flank -- Beckham's territory -- and Edson Buddle rose to direct a glancing header in off the left post.

It was Buddle's third goal of the season. The blame had to be shared by three Chivas players who were around Buddle but failed to attack the ball.

Seven minutes later, Donovan, who had a subdued game by his own high standards, showed some of his explosive pace to beat a defender and take a shot. The ball sailed just over the upper right corner of the net.

Moments later, Alecko Eskandarian skewed a shot wide left, and that was about it for the Galaxy offense. It ended up outshooting Chivas, 11-8, including 4-2 in shots on target.

The television cameras occasionally showed Beckham looking down on the proceedings -- probably literally and figuratively -- but there was no response from the fans. This was, after all, a Chivas USA home game.

Things have been going downhill for Chivas (8-5-3) and Saturday's loss left it only three points ahead of the rapidly climbing Galaxy (5-3-9) in the Western Conference.

Chivas seems to be playing without the confidence it showed early in the season when the victories were coming easily. The Galaxy, meanwhile, is showing energy and effort, if not much skill.

Skill is what Beckham is being counted on to provide. A bit of spice would be nice too.

--

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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