- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

David Beckham will test his skills against D.C. United in what likely will be one of the soccer superstar’s first matches in Major League Soccer.

United is slated to face Beckham’s new team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, on Aug. 9 at RFK Stadium, according to the regular season schedule released by the league yesterday.

Beckham, probably the most famous soccer player in the world, signed a five-year, $250 million deal with the Galaxy last month.

However, he remains under contract with Spanish team Real Madrid, a deal that expires June 30. Beckham likely will arrive in America in mid-July and is expected to make his MLS debut against expansion FC Toronto on Aug. 5. However, United vice president Stephen Zack said it’s still possible Beckham’s debut could take place at RFK.

The league adjusted its schedule to allow Beckham to play in each of its markets this season, and the clash between the Galaxy and United should be one of the premier events of the regular season. Club officials are preparing for a big crowd for the Thursday night game at the 56,500-capacity venue.

As of now, however, the only way to get tickets for the game is to buy a season ticket. The club has sold more than 5,000 of those for this season.

“While we always look to sell out, I’m not sure it’s realistic to sell out RFK on a Thursday night. But we will certainly open the upper decks for that game,” Zack said.

The biggest crowd at RFK for a MLS game was the 57,431 who watched United beat the Colorado Rapids to win the MLS Cup in 1997. United drew an average of 18,214 fans at RFK last season, the fourth best in the league.

The regular season kicks off April 7, when United visits the Rapids’ new 18,000-capacity stadium, Dicks Sporting Goods Park, in Commerce City, Colo. United, now under new ownership, plays its home opener April 14 against the Kansas City Wizards.

United plays 30 MLS games and also will be involved in three other tournaments this season. The club plays its first competitive game Feb. 21, facing CD Olimpia in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup in Honduras. The return game against Olimpia will be at RFK on March 1.

United’s new coach, Tom Soehn, has told his players they have the potential to play in 23 extra games this season if the club is successful in all competitions.

“This will be a busy year for our club, including the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, the SuperLiga Tournament, the U.S. Open Cup and possibly the Copa Sudamericana,” United president Kevin Payne said.

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