Black hole swallows Galaxy-Edmonton Journal

Even David Beckham couldn't save L.A. visitors as Whitecaps deliver 2-1 win at Commonwealth

Joanne Ireland
The Edmonton Journal

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

EDMONTON - His foot was ailing but not his will, so once again, David Beckham slipped into his L.A. Galaxy jersey and out onto another foreign pitch where he won over a crowd of 37,104 at Commonwealth Stadium.

What he couldn't do was score a victory for the Galaxy who were defeated 2-1 by the Vancouver Whitecaps in Tuesday's exhibition match.

"Hopefully, everyone went home happy," said Beckham who left a league game against Real Salt Lake with a bruised foot.

"He still came here to perform ... he still put in a good performance. He didn't want to come off. That just shows his character," Galaxy head coach Rudd

Gullit said of his captain who played 74 minutes -- 29 more than he was contractually obligated to play.

For a few fleeting minutes, Nicholas Addlery, one of 11 newcomers on the Whitecaps roster, was able to steal the spotlight from Beckham.

Four minutes in, on a patchy field in need of some nourishing sunshine, the 26-year-old Jamaican punched the game's first goal past keeper Josh Wilks then struck the far post long before the Galaxy got on the board.

Fittingly, it was Beckham who pulled his team back into the match.

The midfielder, with a distinctly deft touch, still has some game, which is why he was recently added to the roster of the English squad. Game and star appeal. Every time he set up for a corner kick or a free kick, a profusion of flashes blinked around the stadium.

Forty-three minutes in, Alan Gordon headed in a cross from the superstar to tie it 1-1.

"He's a superstar, but we came today and demonstrated we're a quality side," said Addlery, who played 11 games for DC United last season. "It was a great opportunity for everybody.

"You can't take anything away from (Beckham). I mean Manchester United, Real Madrid ... most of us can only dream of playing at that level so when you're playing against a player who has been there, it's always a great experience. It's something you can tell your kids about."

The Whitecaps, fourth in the USL First Division, with a record of 2-1, tied the Galaxy 0-0 in an exhibition match last November. This was the Whitecaps' first victory against a foe from the MLS. They had lost three games to San Jose in past matches.

The Galaxy are 2-3-2 in league play, good enough to put them in third place in the Western Conference in the 14-team MLS.

They were without Landon Donovan, their leading goalscorer, and had real struggles in the back four.

The lanky Abel Xavier, in particular, was a shadow of his former self. The centreback once played for Portugual, Lisbon's Benfica and a succession of European sides, including PSV Eindhoven.

"It was a pretty spirited affair. There weren't three points on the line, but there was pride," Vancouver defender Steve Kindel said. "We didn't want to back off and play scared."

The Whitecaps regained the lead early in the second half when Eduardo Sebrango converted a cross from Nick Webb and continued to press. They also got the benefit of a missed handball call late in the game.

The only damper was the weather. The clouds held off all day, but seven minutes after the kickoff, the umbrellas went up in the stands, and it wasn't long after Beckham headed to the bench and Chris Klein subbed in, that game-goers started to file out of the stadium.

"It's not as easy as it was 10, 15 years ago. There's pressure, there's cameras, there's interest in every game. And with me coming to L.A. and playing in different places around North America and around the world, there's always going to be expectations," said Beckham. "People want you to perform whether it's a friendly match or an MLS game, or if you're playing for your country. You try to do it every day. I work hard to make that happen.

"Having a hand in the goal today helped. It was enjoyable."

jireland@thejournal.canwest.com

© The Edmonton Journal 2008