It wasn't exactly business as usual Monday as David Beckham participated in his first practice with the Los Angeles Galaxy this season.
The English standout, officially returning to MLS after an extended stay with AC Milan followed by a month-long break from the game, finds himself the center of a controversy regarding an upcoming book, "The Beckham Experiment," in which Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan strongly questioned, among other things, his commitment to the club. There also was a phalanx of cameras and media, the likes of which haven't been seen all year, to greet him.
Beckham and Donovan insist they have resolved their differences -- if there were any -- and they're ready to continue the team's push toward the MLS playoffs, something the Galaxy hasn't experienced for the last three seasons.
Beckham said he was happy to be back. He had been riding a bike for 10 miles a day for the last 10 days, but he said there is nothing like match fitness. Nor is there any comparison to the southern California weather; temperatures approached triple digits on Monday.
"I forgot how warm it is here," he said.
And that had nothing to do with media which swarmed around him after practice and wanted to know if he and Donovan had put their so-called problems behind them. They did meet, but he gave no details of that conversation.
"I'm not going to talk about what was said," Beckham said. "That's between me, Landon and the manager (Bruce Arena). But it's finished, it's over.
"We'll move on and it's a big game on Thursday."
Donovan said he is ready to move on, too, and was confident some positives will be found in the ongoing drama.
"Some good will come out of it," he said. "I really believe that. I believe we're getting to the bottom of things we needed to get to. We're on the right path, and I'm excited about that."
The book also brought into question Beckham's abilities as a captain after he wore the Galaxy armband last season. The veteran midfielder, a long-time captain of the English national team, did take some exception to that.
"At the end of the day, that's something to ask all the players," he said. "I've always felt as captain I've made myself available for players and been there for the team. I've been captain for England for over 50 caps, and I've gotten on really well with the players."
Beckham said issues regarding player unrest are nothing new and happen "probably every week in Europe" but without the publicity this situation has created. He also has gotten used to being the center of controversy but still often asks himself why he continues to attract such unwanted attention.
"I wonder about that every day," he said with a smile. "I've dealt with it over a number of years, and I'll continue dealing with it the best way possible," he said.
Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein said Beckham actually is not interested in what's in the book. Beckham met with the team on Sunday and Klein said conversations mostly dealt with his family and his time in Milan.
Klein also said he was not worried whether there was any lingering tension between Beckham and Donovan.
"To be honest, I don't know if it's buried or not," he said. "But when they get out here, they are two of the best at what they do.
"To carry any of that on the field would be silly, and we definitely didn't see any of that today."
Larry Morgan is a contributor to MLSnet.com