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Beckham makes subdued return

MAYBE it was the heat, or the global commute or the rust from weeks without the intense effort of European soccer, but it turned out to be a quiet return for the marquee player of US soccer, David Beckham.

The England international was booed by the crowd with every touch of the ball but said, after playing a minor role in the LA Galaxy's convincing win over Major League Soccer's worst team, he was pleased to be back with his team mates.

Beckham spent the off-season with AC Milan in Italy and his extended loan spell there led Landon Donovan, the Galaxy captain, to publicly question Beckham's commitment to the LA team.

"It's to be expected. Sometimes it's nice to get the boos. It gives you inspiration, especially when we play like we did," said Beckham.

Beckham and Donovan later buried the hatchet in a meeting brokered by their manager, former US national team coach Bruce Arena.

In the aftermath of a thumping 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls, off-field differences were put aside.

"Given all the circumstances and issues, I think he had a great game," said Arena.

Donovan said the chemistry between the two on the right side of midfield was "fantastic". Donovan was by far the better player on the night, scoring one goal and setting up another in the Galaxy victory.

Beckham appeared a step behind and lacked his trademark deft passing.

He was substituted in the 70th minute.

Arena praised Beckham's attitude and said he played longer than expected.

"At halftime, I said 60 minutes, and he told me: '65, 70,'" Arena said.

"He's got a great attitude and stepped right in ... There was never a doubt in our mind that these guys would work together. We expect him to be like all the other guys, and that's what he wants."

The allure of the league's highest-paid player may have worn off on the fans -- only 23,238 attended Thursday's match, half the number that took in the match last year and a third of the fans that showed up for Beckham's debut the year before.

"I don't know. The first year was impressive, but we are in a recession, maybe that's part of it," Beckham said.

Beckham has said he expected to find another loan deal when the current MLS season ends, with the goal of staying in England manager Fabio Capello's plan for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.


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