Beckham promises to return to MLS, buy franchise

BY foxsports • November 23, 2009

A young woman in the first row behind the far corner flag was savoring prime views of the world's most recognizable player. The T-shirt she wore to the MLS Cup on Sunday night had a simple message in black and white: "Beckham Bend It Here." David Beckham promised he will be indeed be back in MLS next season - and that he will eventually exercise his option to own one of the league's teams. "Of course," he said of returning in 2010, after his limped through the Los Angeles Galaxy's upset loss to Real Salt Lake in the league's championship match. "I've said I'll be back, and I will." It will be his fourth season of a $32.5 million, five-year contract with the United States' upstart league. It will also be another chance to win a title in three countries. He did all he could do win it Sunday night. He took three painkilling injections before the game to dull the ache in his bruised right foot and ankle. He set up his team's only goal with a deft touch pass to co-star Landon Donovan. He played all 120 minutes, including a 30-minute overtime. Then he banged in the first of the Galaxy's four penalty-kick goals in a deciding shootout, with a straight grounder while Salt Lake goalkeeper and game MVP Nick Rimando dived left. If only he could have taken one more. Donovan missed the net completely on his try, and Los Angeles lost 5-4 on penalty kicks. "It's Russian roulette," Beckham said of the ending. "It's not a nice way to go out." Yet, he insists he's not going away for good, that he will not use his right to terminate his MLS contract after this season. He will take four weeks off to rest his foot, then plans to report on time Dec. 28 to begin training Dec. 28 for his second consecutive season on loan to AC Milan. Before returning to MLS, the 34-year-old hopes to make England's team for next summer's World Cup. His Sunday was like his team's: a flashy, productive start that fizzled into a slog through the overtime and penalty kicks. "(The injections) wore off after about 50 minutes," he said. It showed. His passes often fell short in the second half. In the 58th minute, he was flat-footed and seemed surprised by a shot taken a few feet in front of him by Salt Lake's Robbie Findley. It darted past Beckham for the tying goal. He limped off at end of regulation. And he looked exhausted throughout the overtime, moving quickly only when the ball was near, or to put it in play of one of his many, signature free kicks. In the 116th minute, with flash bulbs going off behind him as he approached a free kick from the sideline, his ball soared about 30 yards and bent characteristically in on net. But Rimando punched it away from danger with both hands. Beckham limped the other way with his head bowed. "What's your definition of fully fit?" Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said when asked how healthy Beckham was. "He was obviously a little bit hobbled." Beckham remained the team leader, through the end. He was the only Galaxy player not wearing a team coat on the chilly Northwest night as Salt Lake was introduced for its trophy ceremony. From the center of the field, Beckham waved his teammates and coaches back from heading into the tunnel and locker room. They then joined him to watch Real hoist its first MLS Cup. "You guys see what happens when the lights come on. But what we see every day in the locker room, on the road, when we travel, has been tremendous," Donovan said of the teammate whom he had ripped for lack of leadership and effort in a book released earlier this year. "The other thing you don't see is this guy has been hurt or sick for probably the last six or seven games. But he gets on with it and he plays." Commissioner Don Garber clarified at halftime Sunday that Beckham's option starts with the MLS' 20th team, which won't arrive until 2012 at the earliest. Beckham's option stipulates he must be done playing before he owns a team. "We've got options of which team (to buy)," he said, declining to name them or potential cities. "It will happen eventually, yeah." The Galaxy brought Beckham in as a boost for the struggling team and the sport's low profile in America. Mission accomplished. "He gave us the boost we needed, when we needed it most," Garber said. "More people know of us now than in any time in the league's history." The commissioner said he was touring a remote part of southwest China last summer during the Beijing Olympics. "And my guide there," Garber said, "he even knew David was in MLS."

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