David Beckham Determined to Win
Feb. 06, 2008
After an exasperating summer, David Beckham has one expectation for his first full season with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"To win something," he said as the Galaxy opened training for the Major League Soccer season Monday. Los Angeles finished fifth in the six-team Western Conference last season and missed the playoffs after losing to Chicago on the last day of the season.
"We can't afford to be in the position we were in, where we ended up chasing it," Beckham said. "That's not good for the players or for a team. We've got to get it right from the first game and carry on right through the season."
Beckham also experienced personal frustration. He arrived in Los Angeles in July with a sprained left ankle, then sprained his right knee about six weeks later.
He played in just eight MLS and tournament games, made four starts and finished with one goal and three assists.
"Hopefully, I'll stay a lot more fit than I was last year," said Beckham, who trained with Arsenal in London last month. "I'm just looking forward to this season. It's a fresh start for us; it's exciting."
The fresh start includes new coach Ruud Gullit, a former star player for AC Milan and the Dutch national team who coached in England and the Netherlands . He replaced former Canadian national team manager Frank Yallop, who resigned to join the San Jose Earthquakes.
"Ruud brings an ability to deal with players in an equal way and get the most out of them, whether it's a young draft pick or the most famous player in the world," Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas said.
Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz are not training with the Galaxy. Donovan is with the U.S. national team, which plays Mexico in Houston on Wednesday. Ruiz is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
"I feel I'm 80 per cent," Ruiz said. "I don't feel any pain, just a little swelling. The team doctor wants to check me this week and after he checks me, we can decide whether I'm ready or not."
Los Angeles opened training camp without two of last year's starters, goalkeeper Joe Cannon and defender Chris Albright, both of whom were traded. Lalas said the team is not finished dealing while trying to remain under the salary cap.
Beckham, Donovan and Ruiz consume nearly half of the team's cap.
"There'll probably be some other moves we'll have to make to become competitive," Lalas said. "There are some difficult decisions still to be made."
The Galaxy signed former Newcastle United defender Celestine Babayaro, who trained Monday but will not play until he receives his work visa and his transfer papers clear.
Babayaro, 29, played for Nigeria in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He helped Nigeria win the 1996 Olympic gold medal.
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The Galaxy opened their stadium, the Home Depot Center on June 7. But in order for their home to be ready, the team had to play a record 8 games to start the season and failed to win a game. In fact, the Galaxy finish the season without a win away from home the whole season. After the season's final game, the Galaxy had the final playoff spot in the West. In their aggregate series with the Earthquakes, they seemed well on to vindication for the MLS Cup loss 2 years earlier as they held 4 goals to 0 lead midway through the 2 nd game. A thing happened as the Earthquakes scored four unanswered goals to force a tiebreaker. In that session, the Earthquakes' Rodrigo Farina score to send the Quakes onto the next round.
In 2004 Looking to return to the top, the Galaxy would go through a mediocre 1 st half of the season before 3 straight wins over the summer. But from July 14 on, the Galaxy won only 2 more games, one in September and one in October. The Galaxy had a record of 11-9-10, good enough for 2nd in the West and the playoff, remaining the only club in MLS to have a playoff spot in every year of league in the playoffs, the Galaxy withstood an early challenge from the Rapids to win the aggregate goal series, 2-1, scoring 2 times in Game 2. In the conference final, the Galaxy's season would come to an end in Kansas with a 2-0 loss to Arnaud and the Wizards.