CARSON, Calif. -- There was a familiar face at LA Galaxy training Tuesday morning, wearing that old No. 23 jersey and spreading balls around the field. David Beckham's playing days might be over, but that doesn't mean he can't still play.
The former Galaxy star, a pivotal part of the club's 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup titles, has been back to the StubHub Center a few times this season, but he'd never put on the boots and joined his former teammates for a kick-around.
They were delighted to see him.
“He's been so much a part of this club, a huge part of our championships,” defender Todd Dunivant said following the session. “We obviously miss him, and to have him back for training, to see him around the stadium, even at games, it's a great feeling because you know he's still part of it, he still kind of bleeds this club. He put a lot into this club, and his time here meant a lot to him. You can see that, the fact that he's coming back.”
Beckham left the Galaxy after last December's title-game triumph over Houston and retired in the spring following a half-season at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the French Ligue 1 title. He's not at game fitness, of course, but Dunivant noted the Englishman would “definitely fit the mold for us” if MLS allowed its clubs four Designated Players.
“On trial. He's on trial,” joked head coach Bruce Arena. “He's got to work on his crossing, on his passing a little bit. If he can get better in those areas, we would consider signing him.”
Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who joined the club earlier this month, was a little star-struck.
“Get a photo, take a picture!” he exclaimed in English. Then, in Spanish: “In all honesty, I just stood watching him during training. He's a player I admire a lot.”
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Beckham did not take a shot on him, Penedo said. “I want him to, but he was mainly distributing the ball today. But I was ready. I was ready.”
Beckham, who attended the Galaxy's victory last month over Vancouver at StubHub, did not speak to media at training, but it was clear he enjoyed his time on the field. The Galaxy might have enjoyed it even more.
“That is like a warm blanket,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “It's like a comfort level when you see David around, because he's just such a good person.”