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Watching the Beckham revolution

David Beckham (right) and Kenny Mansally
Beckham (right) is pursued by New England Revolution's Kenny Mansally

By Ian Westbrook
BBC Sport in Boston

David Beckham has been named in Fabio Capello's England squad for this week's friendly against the Netherlands, even though he is back playing for Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States' Major League Soccer.

Capello has previously intimated that Beckham will not be included in his World Cup squad if he is still playing in the US.

However, despite the recent reported dispute between Beckham and Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan, it is interesting to see that Beckham is still hugely popular in the States.

I was among the 26,623 crowd which saw Beckham guide his LA side to a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution in the Gillette Stadium in the Boston suburb of Foxborough on Saturday night.

And it was clear the impact the former England captain has on the league is still a big one.

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Driving into Boston on Friday afternoon, a radio advertisement for the game proclaimed it as the chance for local fans to see Beckham play live - rather than just pushing the match as their home team's next league fixture.

And at the game there were plenty of "Beckham 23" LA Galaxy shirts in evidence in the crowd, which was more than double that of the Revolution's previous home game a week earlier.

Even more surprisingly, the Revolution's Locker Room shop was selling Beckham shirts among the Revolution replica kits and other club souvenirs.

Not so surprisingly, Beckham was the target of the boo-boys among the noisiest section of home fans throughout the game.

A couple of other supporters dotted around the stadium had anti-Beckham banners but he also had his supporters, with three displaying home-made pro-Beckham banners in front of us and two more singing his praises just along the row.

David Beckham (right) congratulates goalscorer Landon Donovan (second left)
Beckham was among the first to congratulate Donovan (number 10)

As for Beckham's impact on the game itself, he was playing in central midfield and had plenty of time on the ball.

Sometimes he drifted out to the right wing and certainly in the first half he hardly wasted a pass or a cross.

He was also involved in the build-up for the first goal scored by Donovan, and was among the first players to congratulate his team-mate, seemingly casting aside any notion of a long-term rift between the two.

The former Manchester United favourite was also the victim of two bad tackles - one in each half - with the New England player in each case luckily escaping a yellow card.

He did react to another bad tackle in the second half but the flare-up was over in seconds.

His influence waned as the game went on and he was finally substituted with three minutes to go by former Port Vale midfielder Chris Birchall.

Beckham had more than played his part though as his team ran out winners against a Revolution side who could got have got something out of the game had they not wasted some good chances, although they were also denied by an impressive performance from ex-Bradford keeper Donovan Ricketts.

The standard of the league is one factor which has reportedly bothered Capello.

It is hard to judge what a league is like in one game, but this match was played at quite a slow pace, and by and large the standard seemed closer to a lower division English contest rather than a Premier League one.

David Beckham
Beckham gives a thumbs-up to the fans as he leaves the field

That is not to say it did not have its moments or its excitement - the Revolution hit back from falling 2-0 behind early in the second half to convert a penalty in the final 10 minutes and set up an exciting finish.

But this may not be enough to convince the England boss to keep Beckham in his squad once the competitive matches come around, unless he returns to AC Milan once the American season is over.

If this does happen that may not be it for Beckham in America however.

Before the game he said he still wants to play a part in the MLS once his Galaxy contract finishes in 2011.

He told the Boston Globe: "I still want to be involved. I want to be an ambassador of the league. There's a deal in place where I can purchase an MLS team or start a franchise. It's something I am definitely interested in, or I wouldn't have it in my contract."



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see also
Beckham's American dream
06 Mar 09 |  Football
Capello opts against Owen recall
08 Aug 09 |  Internationals
LA Galaxy v Barcelona photos
02 Aug 09 |  Football
Beckham clashes with another fan
27 Jul 09 |  Football
Beckham fined over fans incident
24 Jul 09 |  Football
Milan keen for Beckham to return
21 Jul 09 |  Europe
Beckham confronts fans after boos
20 Jul 09 |  Football
Capello urges Beckham Euro return
16 Jul 09 |  Football
Beckham hits back at Donovan slur
12 Jul 09 |  Football
LA team-mate hits out at Beckham
02 Jul 09 |  Football
Beckham: My family comes first
16 Jul 09 |  Front Page


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