Beckham doubtful for Galaxy's SuperLiga opener

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> David Beckham missed another training session with the Los Angeles Galaxy because of a nagging left ankle injury that left him doubtful for the opener.

Updated: July 25, 2007 09:23 IST
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Los Angeles:

David Beckham missed another training session with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Monday because of a nagging left ankle injury that left him doubtful for the team's opening game in the SuperLiga.

The inaugural tournament, featuring four Major League Soccer teams and four teams from Mexico's first division, opens on Tuesday with the Galaxy hosting defending Mexican champion Pachuca and Chivas visiting FC Dallas.

Beckham had been scheduled to attend Monday's news conference in Hollywood, but he stayed away to continue treatment. He has yet to participate in full training since joining the team on July 13.

"We can't keep running him around, dragging him to press conferences and events," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "We just want him to get better."

However, Beckham's injury didn't prevent him and wife Victoria from attending a celebrity-studded welcome party on Sunday at a downtown Los Angeles museum. The bash, hosted by Tom Cruise and Will Smith, lasted into the early morning hours.

"He is a very professional guy," Garber said. "He's not going to do anything that he doesn't think is going to support his ability to get better."

16-minute presence

The English superstar played 16 minutes, including four minutes of stoppage time, in a 1-0 loss to Chelsea in his Galaxy debut on Saturday. The highlight was a corner kick he took near the end of the game.

Garber said ESPN's high TV ratings, the sold-out attendance of 27,000, and domestic and international media interest was more than MLS had expected.

"It shows that people have a real desire to see the sport get a lot of attention," he said. "If you deliver the right things - good players, high-quality competition, some interesting side stories - than we have a chance to really break out of some of the clutter that exists in pro sports."

But first, the league needs Beckham in the lineup on a regular basis.

Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said that if Beckham is able to play at all on Tuesday, it wouldn't be until late in the game.

"We don't want to make it worse, and he's still a little bit sore," the coach said. "We're forever hopeful he'd be back in a uniform and running out for us as soon as he can _ next weekend or the following Tuesday."

More realistic for Beckham is the team's second SuperLiga game against Chivas on Saturday. It has been moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum to handle an expected huge crowd.

Beckham's injury has "certainly added to the drama of what's been going on here the last week or so and for the next couple of weeks," Garber said.

Beckham's biggest problem is swelling in his ankle, Yallop said.

"It's really tight in there," he said. "He was uncomfortable on Saturday, you could tell. It's going to be a little bit sore when he's playing, but not as sore as it was on Saturday. That's what we're trying to get to."

Garber acknowledged the league has "been putting a lot of pressure" on Galaxy players to do promotion, but his message to the team on Monday was "practice and beat Pachuca."

The SuperLiga features two four-team groups playing round-robin matches, with the top two teams from each group meeting in the semifinals on August 14-15. The final is on August 29, with the winning team earning $1 million - the largest soccer purse in North America history.

Besides the Galaxy and FC Dallas, the other MLS teams are four-time league champion D.C. United and last year's champion Houston. The Mexican club teams are Club America, Chivas, Pachuca and Morelia.

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