Galaxy Midfielder David Beckham takes part in his first team practice session… (Alex Gallardo / Reuters )
The wandering Englishman showed up in Carson on Thursday morning, happily back in the sunshine but perhaps not so happily back out of the limelight.
David Beckham has returned to America and the Galaxy.
You could hardly have missed the fact that he's been away, what with the vaunted Beckham publicity machine churning out — one is tempted to say manufacturing — one story after another for the always voracious tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic.
Not a day went by, it seemed, when the Beckham brand was not being touted somewhere, somehow, some way. Before seeing what he had to say for himself Thursday, just consider some of the Beckham "sightings" during his three-month absence from these parts:
• Beckham hobnobbing in Zurich, Switzerland, with heir to the throne Prince William and David Cameron, the British prime minister, as the trio attempted unsuccessfully to land the 2018 World Cup for England.
• Beckham being promoted by Lord Coe — better known simply as Seb back in the day when he was a distance runner — as possible coach of the British Olympic soccer team in 2012.
• Beckham embroiled in an on-again, off-again loan deal with the English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, an argument eventually won by the Galaxy, which allowed him to train with but not play for Spurs these last seven weeks.
• Beckham, who turns 36 in May, disclosing that his wife, former Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria, is expecting the couple's fourth child in June.
• Beckham as the focus of scores of photographers, wearing No. 77 and the sky blue "road" colors of Spurs while working out with the club.
• Beckham in his fashion model role, "dapper" in tweed coat and scarf while watching Chelsea lose to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Beckham beaming, along with sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, while watching Manchester United edge Manchester City at Old Trafford.
• Beckham treating the Spurs players, coaches and backroom staff to a popular but plebeian dish of mashed potatoes and meat pies as a farewell gift.
• Beckham the not-so-plebeian, being invited to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, set for Westminster Abbey on April 29, two days before the Galaxy plays Dallas in Texas.
"It's a huge thing for our country to have a royal wedding," Beckham said Thursday after practicing with the Galaxy. "I'm a big royal family fan, always have been. I was brought up by my grandparents and my parents to love the royal family."
So will he attend?
"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "I'll concentrate on playing and training here. That's all I'm thinking about."
Well, not really. There is also that upcoming addition to the family.
"We're having another baby, which we're over the moon about," Beckham said. "My wife's five months' pregnant. She's obviously very healthy and looking after herself and we've got three boys who are very happy, so it's a big year."
Beckham pronounced himself recharged for the Major League Soccer season, which begins March 15.
"My fitness is great," he said. "Obviously, I've been training at a really high standard since the 4th of January and fitness-wise I feel great."
Having been sidelined for six months in 2010 with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, the preseason work at Spurs was necessary, Beckham said.
"It was important for both sides, for myself and for the [Galaxy] team," he said. "I could have sat on a beach somewhere; that was always an option. But at my age and at this stage of my career, I can't afford to take three months' holiday.
"After the injury last season, it was even more important this preseason to go somewhere and to keep fit."