Galaxy fans jeer superstar midfielder David Beckham, left, in Sunday's 2-2 draw with AC Milan at the Home Depot Center. ((Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images))

Los Angeles Galaxy general manager and coach Bruce Arena issued a statement Monday expressing regret for the verbal exchange between midfielder David Beckham and a heckler in Sunday's 2-2 draw in a friendly with AC Milan.

"We regret the incident that happened at the end of the first half of last night's friendly at the Home Depot Center," Arena said.

At intermission, Beckham strolled toward the section of fans known as the Riot Squad to speak to the heckler, who leapt from the seats onto the pitch and was arrested for trespassing.

"One of the guys was saying things that really weren't very nice and kind of stepped over the line," Beckham said. "I walked over and said, 'You need to calm down.'"

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Higher Standard

Beckham signed a five-year contract with Major League Soccer to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Jan. 11, 2007. Although he stands to make $32.5 million US in salary, profit sharing and endorsements could raise the sum total to $250 million US over the life of the contract — easily the richest in soccer history. But when Beckham was loaned to AC Milan for five months, he liked it so much he asked to stay. Beckham figured it would also help him retain a spot on the English national squad for the 2010 World Cup.

"While it is important that our fans remain free to voice their opinions, they must do so in an appropriate manner," Arena noted. "We appreciate our players' and fans' passion for the team and the game, but we all must aim to hold ourselves to higher standards.

"We have a very good relationship with the LA Riot Squad and have already reached out to them to set up a meeting to discuss moving forward together in a positive direction. In addition, the LA Riot Squad has informed us that they have issued a lifetime ban to the fan that went onto the field of play."

It was Beckham's first home match with Los Angeles since he spent five months on loan to Milan, and he was the target of frequent booing and derisive banners held up by one of the team's support groups.

"A lot of people predicted the vicious kind of reaction that would be here and they were right," Beckham said. "But at the end of the day, it didn't affect me as a player."

Beckham, 34, turned the jeers to cheers, bringing the sellout crowd of 27,000 to its feet with assists on both Galaxy goals, by Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan, and was named the Man of the Match with a 74 per cent vote in a poll conducted on Major League Soccer's website.

With files from The Associated Press