Beckham parlays anger into Galaxy's tying goal
LA Galaxy star met with jeers, streamers and a beer can
One minute a fan was hurling a beer can down on David Beckham, the next minute the world-famous footballer was parlaying his anger into a goal for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Landon Donovan scored off Beckham's corner kick in the 89th minute to lift the Galaxy into a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.
"I think everyone saw what happened on the corner," Beckham said afterward. "It's disappointing because I think a crowd like that turns out, it's a great atmosphere, great to play in front of. The majority of the fans, almost all of the fans, created an amazing atmosphere tonight. So it was disappointing.
"But it was a minority. Overall, it was a great atmosphere."
A capacity crowd of 47,658 at the Rogers Centre — normally home to the Toronto Argonauts and Blue Jays — made it clear Beckham was far from a fan favourite from the opening whistle.
They booed the 36-year-old former England captain on every free kick and pelted him with streamers on every one of his nine corner kicks. Each time he bent down and scooped up the piles of red and white paper and tossed them aside. After one corner kick, he ran back upfield with a streamer still wrapped around his waist like he had just run through the finish line at the end of a race.
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His anger boiled over in the final minutes when a beer can sailed down from the Rogers Centre seats. Beckham picked it up it up anger and thrust it at officials. A Galaxy official said the incident would be reported to CONCACAF.
Less than a minute later, Beckham, his hair parted down the middle and held off his face by a black headband, delivered the deciding corner kick, the final blow to Toronto.
"It was coming," he said on the late goal. "Felt as if we were never going to get that goal, just because we had a lot of chances and obviously couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. The ball didn't roll sometimes for us, but we kept at it at the end of the day and I think we deserved the draw, at least."
Beckham also wasn't pleased with the pitch. The game was held at Rogers Centre because of the problems winter weather could have posed at BMO Field. The field was the same artificial turf field the Argonauts play on, rather than the natural grass soccer players prefer.
"I think it's always very difficult playing on that kind of field," Beckham said. "But overall I think we've got a couple of knocks, a couple of players with twisted ankles but I think overall we've come out of it OK."
Beckham, who was seen earlier in the day making a trip to a downtown Starbucks with his teammates, wasn't an overwhelming standout for the early part of the game, but showed he can still deliver some beautiful long balls in the second half.
"You saw it, in the first 20 minutes he wasn't allowed to pass all the balls to the left, to the right, in the last 25 minutes of the first half he did," said Toronto striker Danny Koevermans. "If you ask Beckham to put the ball on exactly that piece of turf, he does it.
"That's why he made the game over there, and changed it a little bit in the second half. They were dangerous with set pieces, and I think the effort he put in paid off."
The game was Beckham's second in Toronto since the 2008 MLS all-star game. He was the headliner in Toronto's previous attendance record — 22,453 fans were on hand to see Toronto play L.A. to a scoreless draw last April.
It was also his lone appearance in Toronto this season as the Galaxy doesn't play a regular-season game here.
Beckham is coming off his most productive of his five MLS seasons, doling out a career-high 15 assists, earning a spot on the league's Best XI team, and winning comeback player of the year honours. He also led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup.
The veteran, who signed a new two-year deal with L.A. in January, said he was never concerned the Galaxy were going to lose Wednesday's game, and was proud of how the team fought back.
"I wasn't worried at any point, even at two-nil down, I thought we were going to create chances and score goals," Beckham said. "We've come away from here with a draw after being two-nil down after 15 minutes, looks like a good result."
Toronto and L.A. meet in the second leg of the quarter-finals on Wednesday in Carson, Calif.