Beckham (balky back) has 'fingers crossed' for Barcelona game
David Beckham, the now-you-see-him/now-you-don't soccer superstar recently returned to the Galaxy from his loan deal with AC Milan, missed the team's practice Thursday at the Home Depot Center because of back pain that he said had flared up a few days ago.
Beckham, who has played in only two MLS games this season because of his late arrival, said he hoped to resume training Friday to play for the Galaxy against powerhouse FC Barcelona on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
"I've got slight back pain, but it's not a problem," he said Thursday. "I did my work in the gym and got some treatments so it should be fine."
However, he wouldn't definitively say that he will play Saturday.
"I hope so, unless I have a bad reaction from the last couple of days," he said. "But I think it will be fine. It's feeling a lot better than it was yesterday."
He also said he has had a similar problem in the past. "It comes up every now and again but it shouldn't be a problem," he said. "Fingers crossed I'll be training again tomorrow."
Beckham said he's looking forward to Saturday's game, the first for Barcelona in a tour that will continue against MLS teams in Seattle and San Francisco.
"Coming up against Barcelona -- European champions, Spanish champions, Spanish Cup champions -- it's an honor for us to play against these teams and these players," he said. "[Lionel] Messi's one of the best, if not the best player in the world. So to come up against someone like him, our players are really looking forward to that."
In Beckham's first home game with the Galaxy this season, on July 20, he was booed by a large group of fans and had to be restrained from going after one particular fan. Beckham, labeled a "fraud" and worse on some of the banners displayed in one corner of the stadium, was fined $1,000 by MLS for his actions -- and said he paid the fine.
Should fans again harass him, he said he would "ignore it as much as I can.
"I think that's the way you have to deal with these things because when it happens, sometimes it can become a distraction not just for myself but for the team," he said. "The team have done well to deal with those situations and I've got the support of the players. And for me that's the most important thing -- the support of the team and the management and the owners. I'm happy to be back. I'm happy to be playing with these players and in this team and I'm enjoying it."
Told that some members of one group, the LA Riot Squad, planned to bring banners to the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Beckham smiled.
"I wish I had the time to make banners. If they put up more banners then that's down to them. I've had it a lot worse than I've had it here so if it continues, then it continues. I'm not going to lose any sleep over these banners and these people."
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: David Beckham kicks the ball in a game against the Kansas City Wizards on July 25. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA