BY ADAM SERRANO
As the Los Angeles Galaxy get set to play their most important match of the season this weekend, today the club welcomed back David Beckham to the active roster on Thursday.
Beckham was activated from the disabled list on Thursday afternoon setting the stage for him make his season debut in Saturday's match against the Columbus Crew. The 35-year-old midfielder has been injured since he tore his Achilles tendon in March while with A.C. Milan. After a six-month injury layoff, Beckham is eager to have a chance to step on the field again.
"I think I could be eligible to be on the bench and play some part of the game on Saturday," said Beckham. "I'm excited and I want to be out there with the guys, being out for the last six months has been one of the toughest parts of my career so far."
Beckham has been training with the club for three weeks now and participated in the Galaxy's 45-minute closed-door scrimmage on Wednesday. After appearing in the scrimmage, the midfielder did not appear in Thursday training due to regeneration training. Last week in an interview, Beckham announced that he hoped to play 15-20 minutes on Saturday.
Beckham may be bullish about a return back to action, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was less optimistic about his ability to feature in Saturday's match.
"I don't think its very likely, all that taking him off the disabled list means is that he's eligible in games," said Arena. "We fully expect him to be involved our team for the month of September and all decisions will be based day to day. The decision hasn't been made yet, but he's getting close."
Throughout Beckham's injury rehab, the danger has been rushing him back from injury. In years prior, the midfielder rushed back from injury only to have it wear on him later in the season. That is a scenario that Los Angeles is eager to prevent.
After training on Thursday, Arena admitted that had Beckham had it his way, he would have returned to action several weeks ago. With the club's aspirations firmly set on appearing at MLS Cup, the midfielder has been withheld until he could perform. Tempering his own desire to return for the club's long term future has been difficult for the veteran.
"I'm a pretty positive person so whether I'm fit or not, I always believe that I can play," said Beckham. "That's partly a problem and partly a good thing, but I've still got a ways to go to get back to full match fitness which will only happen with game minutes."
This return comes during a period when the Galaxy will play six of its last seven matches at the Home Depot Center. Should Real Salt Lake win this evening, the Galaxy may enter Saturday's match out of first place for the first time since the start of the season.
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan admitted that while Beckham may not appear against Columbus, his presence will be a big help to the struggling club.
"His return is going to help all of us, we've had hit a complacent patch and even if he wasn't coming back this weekend then we're still working to get over it," said Donovan. "It's just going to give us some energy that we've been missing."