Beckham's comeback impressive despite poor ending

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - David Beckham has won league titles in both England and Spain, numerous cup titles, including the Champions League, been nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and been capped more times by England than any other outfield player.

Yet, what Beckham accomplished in 2010 at the age of 35 has to rank right up there with any of his previous achievements.

The fact that Beckham was even able to take the field on Sunday in the Major League Soccer Western Conference final has to count for quite a bit considering the fact that just eight months ago, while wearing an AC Milan jersey, Beckham was taken off the field on a stretcher after tearing his Achilles tendon.

The injury was devastating for Beckham, who seemed likely to be included in England manager Fabio Capello's team for the 2010 World Cup. Considering how important the national team is to Beckham, it would have been easy for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star to call it quits with no real expectation of an England recall.

Beckham could have called off his MLS adventure two years early, citing a career-ending injury, and who would have blamed him from walking away at that age with a such a tough injury to overcome.

Instead, Beckham came back for more, going through a tough rehab process to return to the field for the Galaxy's final 12 regular season games and into the postseason.

David Beckham is still a constant threat from set pieces.
Maybe he did it because he still holds out hope of earning another England call up, which is very possible, but the fact that he returned from the injury in that relatively short amount of time outlines the commitment he still has to the game.

And not only did Beckham just return to the field, he was a difference-making player for the Galaxy.

His numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, with just two goals and one assist in 12 regular-season games, but he is still a constant threat from set pieces, which he once again confirmed in the second leg of the Galaxy's 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference semifinals.

Both of L.A.'s goals in that game were a direct result of Beckham free kicks, and FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman acknowledged after the game how much focus his team had on Beckham.

"This week in training, we emphasized two things," he said. "The first thing was the diagonal ball that Beckham was going to be sending in and you saw that the whole second half."

And on Sunday, he continued to impress his own coach and teammates with the way he played despite playing with an adductor injury in the Western Conference Championship.

"David played well. David showed a lot of character playing for 90 minutes," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "We saw 15 minutes in that he had a problem. He hung in there, and we talked to him at halftime and there was a chance we were going to take him off but he stayed in.

"If we have all of our players with his kind of character and commitment, we would continue to do well. He did well given the circumstances. It wasn't easy for him to play with that injury and he hung in there."

He may not be the dynamic playmaker he once was for Manchester United in the late 1990's - and hasn't been for years - but the fact that Beckham is still finding ways to make an impact is impressive.

Even Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan couldn't help but be impressed with Beckham's return.

"He hasn't been at full strength since he's been back. He's got a lot of different things going on," Donovan said. "When you come back at that age from an Achilles injury, there are going to be residual effects.

"My hats off to him. He's played through a lot of pain, more than you guys know. He's been struggling the last few weeks with a couple of different things, but he's a competitor and he wants to keep going."

Beckham might want to keep going, but how long his body allows him to is another issue.

It is clear based on the way he injured his Achilles, with no contact at all, that his body is starting to break down, and it's hard to believe that an injury like that will not have a lasting effect.

But it was fitting that Sunday's match against Dallas took place at The Home Depot Center, which is not too far from Hollywood.

The script would have called for Beckham to overcome a debilitating injury and lead his Galaxy to the final of the MLS Cup, where they no doubt would have won and Beckham would be carried off the field.

Instead, reality set in, and L.A. was dealt a comprehensive 3-0 defeat, despite a gritty performance from the English star.

"At the end of the day, as long as I give 110 percent in every game, like I do, I'll look at myself in the mirror and know that I've done that," Beckham said. "It's just disappointing to go out the way we've gone out."

Disappointing is a good word to describe the end of the Galaxy's season, just not Beckham's.

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