Just six hours after landing from London, David Beckham was at the center of a mid-field scuffle in Los Angeles.
A capacity crowd of 37,000 inside Home Depot Center stadium watched the face-off Thursday night between the English star and Jesse Marsch after the Chivas USA midfielder tackled Beckham from behind.
The Galaxy’s $6.5 million man fell forward, got up and ran over to Marsch, shouting in his face. A grim-faced Marsch stood his ground while Beckham was pulled back by teammate Edson Buddle.
Beckham continued shouting at Marsch when the referee tried to grab and usher him away. But by then players from the L.A. began streaming onto the playing field.
A standoff ensued – but Beckham quickly backed out of it and circled around until cooler heads prevailed.
“It was a professional foul, and maybe it was a little bit harder than I would have liked it to have been,” Marsch admitted to PEOPLE after the match. He also apologized to Beckham during the second half. “I tried to tell him that I respect his game, respect what he’s about,” said Marsch, “and he just kind of gave me a nod, but he was kind of done with me then.”
As for the rest of the game, Beckham, 32, did not connect on a couple of first-half free kicks, and near the end – as 5 a.m. London time approached – a tired Beckham, limping slightly, had Carlos Pavon handle a corner kick.
It was the third time in six days that Beckham (who scored his first Galaxy goal Aug. 15) has led the team and played the entire 90 minutes.
“He looked hobbled,” said Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, expressing concern that the British beefcake was beat. “I used him tonight and I shouldn’t have done that.”
Beckham, who has been struggling with an ankle injury, had spent the last four days with the England team, which had been defeated in a 2-1 loss against Germany at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night.
During the next 12 weeks, Beckham faces more than 22 games as he travels more than 75,000 air miles across 128 time zones – which translates into nearly a solid week in the air.
“I’m not going to deny there comes a point when your body can’t do it anymore,” said Galaxy boss Alexi Lalas. “If at any point we felt it was detrimental to his health or ability to help our team we would take action.”
For his part, Beckham dismissed jet-lag claims, and is quoted by the BBC as saying, “So far it hasn’t affected me. In the future, who knows?