Three days before MLS Cup, David Beckham didn’t practice with the Los Angeles Galaxy because of a cold, Coach Bruce Arena said Thursday morning.
Arena dismissed media speculation that Beckham was nursing an injury and said the midfielder will be ready to play Sunday against the Houston Dynamo at Home Depot Center.
Arena had some fun with the Beckham absence, saying the Englishman was in downtown Los Angeles “protesting the banking system” as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the city today.
In his first public comments since disclocating his foot in training last week, an injury that will prevent him from playing in the final, Galaxy starting forward Chad Barrett told a small group of reporters gathered inside HDC that “it sounded like getting your back popped. I felt the cracks, I heard the cracks, but I also thought I just sprained my ankle. I looked down, my foot was turned upward. It was pretty gruesome to see.”
Barrett, whose seven regular season goals were second on the club, was actually fortunate the damage wasn’t worse. He didn’t suffer a fracture or major ligament injuries and won’t need surgery.
His right foot remains swollen, and bruises are visible up his shin. It’s being treated like a badly sprained ankle, he said.
“When they told me I could be back on me feet in 3-4 weeks, I was shocked,” he said. “The bone could’ve gone through the skin and it didn’t. So many bad things could’ve happened. One [ambulance attendant] said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s broken. You’re never playing again.’ I thought, ‘Who brought this guy?’ ”
Right away, though, he came to terms with missing the championship match — after injuring himself on a non-contact sequence in a practice session.
“I shed a couple tears in the ambulance,” he said. “As it’s getting closer to the game, I’m starting to feel more sad about the whole thing. At the same time, it’s still an exciting time.”
He shares the disappointment of missing the final with Dynamo star Brad Davis, whose quadriceps injury in the Eastern Conference final sidelined him as well.
“They’re missing him more than this team is missing me,” Barrett said. “It’s a good thing for us, but I feel real bad for him.”
As for the match, “Hopefully the guys come out firing and they make it a real quick thing, go up 2-0 in the first five minutes and then just relax a little bit. [However,] I think it’s going to be a real close game. It’s a final, it’s hard to come by goals.”
Barrett hopes to be off crutches and in a walking boot by Sunday.
“I don’t want the whole team to be celebrating in the locker room and I’m still on the field.”
As you probably know, MLS is giving serious consideration to changing the venue format for the title game. Instead of a pre-selected site, the finalist with the best regular season record would host the match.
Such an arrangement would improve the atmosphere and ensure no empty seats, which is common at neutral grounds. But it would pose logistical challenges in terms of securing hotels and event space on short notice. It would also run the risk of playing in cold, or even snowy, weather. The previous two years, players and fans, encountered chilly settings in Seattle and Toronto.
The forecast Sunday in Los Angeles calls for an early-evening temperature in the low 50s with a 20 percent chance of rain.
Meantime, in Boston: windy, 50+ degrees.
Chicago: low 40s, chance of rain.
Seattle: upper 30s.
New York: 50s.
Montreal: 40s with rain possible.
Kansas City: low 40s.
So all in all, it wouldn’t have been a major problem ... this year.
My feeling is that, yes, MLS will shift to a home-field advantage and that an announcement could come this weekend.
The Galaxy-Dynamo match marks the third time in 16 years that the MLS Cup “host” advanced to the final: D.C. United at RFK Stadium in 1997 and the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in 2002. The Galaxy and MLS have been expanding capacity at Home Depot Center, which usually holds 27,000, but a final attendance figure hasn’t been determined yet.
Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN, Galavision and ESPN3.com.
Kickoff is at 9:25 p.m. ET.
The ESPN announcing team is Ian Darke and John Harkes.
Max Bretos will host the pregame, halftime and postgame show, with Alexi Lalas, Taylor Twellman and Alejandro Moreno providing analysis. The sideline reporters are Monica Gonzalez (Galaxy) and Rob Stone (Dynamo).
The production will utilize 21 cameras.
ESPN International will carry the match in 129 countries and territories, including the United Kingdom, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.