Arena praises Beckham, Donovan
Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena praised the chemistry between David Beckham and Landon Donovan after his side beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 on the Englishman's return to Major League Soccer at Giants Stadium.
Beckham was handed a starting role for the Galaxy on his return to MLS following an extended loan spell with AC Milan, in a team led by Donovan, who had replaced the Englishman as club captain to regain the role he had relinquished to the midfielder on his arrival in Los Angeles in July 2007. Donovan had criticised Beckham's leadership and questioned his commitment to the Galaxy, while the Englishman countered with claims his team-mate had been unprofessional in making his feelings public rather than airing them face to face.
The two were brought together by Arena at the weekend to discuss their differences on Beckham's return to the fold and both players declared the matter over. And that certainly seemed the case as they were both quick to acknowledge the other's contributions as they combined several times during a dominant performance at Giants Stadium.
Making his seasonal debut for the Galaxy halfway through the current campaign Beckham, 34, played 70 minutes in central midfield with Donovan wide right as their team stretched their winning run to four games thanks to first-half goals from Alecko Eskandarian, Donovan and Eddie Lewis.
"There was never any doubt in our minds that these guys would work together," Arena said of Beckham and Donovan. "With all of the build-up with the so-called questionable relationship, it was great. They're going to be good together."
Commenting on the players' embrace following Donovan's goal in the 31st minute, Arena said: "They're good professionals and certainly it was a nice moment and hopefully there's going to be more of those."
Arena praised Beckham's individual performance and the effect his return had on his team, saying: "He certainly brings confidence to the team. We're a team where we were very suspect in midfield and all of a sudden it got real good when you have David Beckham and Landon Donovan in the midfield.
"David Beckham was good, he's got a great attitude, he's fit right in the group, brought a healthy spirit. It's not easy for him with the scrutiny and I thought that performance was pretty impressive considering the factors that led him into this game to come back into MLS."
Beckham, too, had praise for a new-look Galaxy side and Donovan in particular. "It's great to be back, personally, and it's great to be back in a team that was as confident as was shown tonight and has got this quality in a game," Beckham said.
"Playing with Stefani (Miglioranzi) was great, and when you've got players like Eddie and Landon on the wings, especially when Landon's in the form that he has been and as he showed tonight, you just give them the ball, they do what they can do and show how good they are.
"Landon did that tonight, Eddie did it and we've got other players that also break through and do the same. We have got a strong midfield and also a strong team now and that's good."
Donovan was quick, also, to underscore his new-found respect for Beckham. "It was fantastic," the United States international said. "The first day David got back in training, with players like that you don't worry about chemistry because he sees the game the same way.
"I think even with a little (more) time to practise and get back on the same page we'll figure things out a little bit more. He understands how to play the game, he knows how I play and he can make all the good plays that I need to get the ball in a good spot. So, it's easy."
Beckham said he enjoyed the boos he received from sections of the 23,238 crowd, a reception that was also mixed with cheers from others at Giants Stadium. "I've had a lot more boos before in games," he said. "I had a few tonight but it's to be expected. It's sometimes nice to get the boos. It gives you some inspiration and especially when we play like we did and win like we did the boos start to go away after a while."