Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Beckham could be in the US sooner than he suspects

AP , LONDON

Not even David Beckham can get a day off to attend a wedding.

The soccer star-pop idol wanted to stay in Rome for an extra day to watch Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes tie the knot, but Real Madrid didn't like that idea.

The Spanish team allowed Beckham to travel to Italy to visit the Hollywood couple on Friday, but then they wanted the injured midfielder back in Spain to sit in the stands for Saturday's game against Racing Santander.

Real Madrid 1, Beckham 0.

"He's injured," Madrid coach Fabio Capello said. "He hasn't recovered and he has to train."

Beckham has been training plenty, including Monday, but he has still only started three times this season for Madrid. His left knee injury also forced him to miss Madrid's Champions League match against Lyon yesterday.

The 31-year-old former England captain, whose contract with Madrid ends in June, is nearing the end of his career. That could be good news for fans of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the kids attending his soccer academy in Los Angeles.

Beckham has been contemplating a move to the US for some time. And given his clamor for the big time, with his ever-changing hairstyles and advertising campaigns, a country that creates celebrities as fast as most people change their socks seems to be the perfect place for him and his pop star wife, former Spice Girls singer Victoria.

"I want to play at the highest level for a few more years yet," Beckham said at the World Cup in Germany. "Going to America is one of the ideas that I've thought of in the future."

The future could be sooner than even he expected.

Beckham scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Ecuador in the second round of the World Cup, but after a shootout loss to Portugal in the quarter-finals, Beckham stepped down as England captain.

A short time later, new coach Steve McClaren dropped him altogether.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the American league is already making plans for Beckham's arrival.

Less than two weeks ago, MLS decided on a rule that will allow teams to sign high-profile players despite a salary cap.

It's called the "Beckham Rule."

But could Beckham's future really be pushed forward years just because he wanted to spend an extra day in Rome?

Yes.

Capello has proven he is not a huge fan of Beckham by the lack of playing time given to the midfielder. Rumors in Spain even suggest Beckham could be leaving Madrid in January, when the tranfer window reopens.

Despite the glamour of having played alongside other "Galacticos," Beckham may be better off at another team. He has yet to win a major trophy since joining Madrid in 2003.

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