Issues abound as Donovan, Beckham look to regain form
CARSON, Calif. — If Landon Donovan and David Beckham both play Saturday against Chicago, it will be the first time the star duo plays together in consecutive games in nearly two months.
Given their performances in against Seattle earlier this week, however, the duo could use a jolt ahead of the match if they are to be more influential against the Fire than they were against the Sounders.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said his returning captain “looked tired” and the former England captain “did OK” in Monday’s 0-0 draw against Seattle, which leaves for improvement from both ahead of the weekend.
The question with Donovan is not about health. He stepped right back into the starting lineup following the Gold Cup, but his time away from the Galaxy took a bit of a toll on him.
“It’s good to get back into training, but playing in a game is different,” he said. “I wasn’t very sharp [Monday] either. That doesn’t have to do with the team. That just has to do with me individually.”
While away on international duty, Donovan saw action in all six of the United States’ matches but played in just 430 of the possible 540 minutes he could have seen. Donovan did not start in either the quarterfinal or semifinal matches for the US but played 90 minutes in the final and scored a goal in the Americans’ loss to Mexico.
The missed minutes may have crept in on his return.
“He looked a little bit tired for Landon,” Arena said. “In all honesty, he didn’t play a lot of minutes. He didn’t come back perhaps the way he left because he had limited minutes over his monthly stint there and I think that takes a little bit away.
“We gave him some time off when he came back so he hasn’t been in the swing of things like he needs to be,” Arena added. “He’s certainly going to build with each game.”
Beckham, meanwhile, made a bit of a surprise appearance, coming on for the final 21 minutes of the match. The English midfielder revealed he had a stress fracture in his spine after missing the past two games, but Arena called his name when an important match was still very much up for grabs.
“Did I expect to play in this game? No, not really,” Beckham said. “Not after finding out it was a fracture, I didn’t expect to play in this game. I had an epidural and cortisone shot last week and it seemed to take the pain away. Obviously the fracture is still there but the pain has died down a bit.”
While Donovan may just need more training sessions and matches, Beckham needs to continue along his rehabilitation in order to get things right.
“A lot of my game is the way I kick the ball, the way I pass the ball, the way I cross the ball,” he said. “So there is a little bit of stiffness there, but that’s obviously part of the rehab program I have going on, and getting rid of that should be fine.”