- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

There’s so much riding on David Beckham’s appearance in America that it’s hard to imagine the worst: what if he gets injured?

Major League Soccer has rearranged its schedule so Beckham will play in every market. That’s why league officials are praying the golden boy of world soccer stays free of injury once he arrives this summer.

Beckham does have a history of injuries. He broke his left foot after a bad tackle playing for Manchester United just a few months before the 2002 World Cup. His broken second metatarsal bone made headlines around the world, but Beckham returned seven weeks later to play in the World Cup, even though he wasn’t completely healthy.

Injuries happen to the best in the business.

Diego Maradona, considered by many the greatest player ever, suffered a major injury after his big move to Barcelona in 1983. Athletic Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea — later dubbed the “Butcher of Bilbao” — put the Argentine star out of action for 14 weeks with a brutal tackle from behind. Three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldo has injured his knee twice and missed nearly two seasons.

Beckham, 31, has played against the toughest in the game. Still, he should be aware that MLS has it fair share of rough players, essentially the bad boys of the league known for their hard tackles. The “dirty dozen” in MLS Beckham should watch out for while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy include:

• Dema Kovalenko (New York Red Bulls) — The fiery Ukrainian has earned his fair share of red cards and is notorious for breaking the legs of two Dallas players in the span of four years with wild tackles.

• Matt Reis (New England Revolution) — The 6-foot-1 goalie showed no mercy in his collision with former D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian in June 2005. Eskandarian suffered a serious concussion and was out for the season.

• Mike Petke (Colorado Rapids) — He was fined by the league after displaying a T-shirt that said “Revenge is Coming,” following an injury to a teammate. He earned a two red cards and 10 yellow cards in 2006.

• Josh Gros (D.C. United) — He’s not a dirty player. But Gros, who once spent time in a Marine officer training program, takes no prisoners and earned two red cards in 2006.

• C.J. Brown (Chicago Fire) — The nine-year veteran is a monster of a defender and built like a tank.

• Joe Franchino (Revolution) — A feisty defender, Franchino earns a yellow card nearly every other game.

• Amado Guevara (Chivas USA) — Combustible on and off the field, he came in second in the league in fouls committed in 2006.

• Pablo Mastroeni (Rapids) — A bulldog midfielder and brutal tackler, Mastroeni was red-carded and given a three-game ban playing for the U.S. team against Italy at the 2006 World Cup.

• Eddie Robinson (Houston Dynamo) — The uncompromising 6-foot-1, 195-pound defender led the league in yellow cards last season.

• Daniel Hernandez (Revolution) — An enforcer who sometimes gets his sports mixed up. The former SMU kicker has ambitions to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

• Nick Garcia (Kansas City Wizards) —The fiery Garcia is a passionate player and not afraid to mix it up.

• Bryan Namoff (United) — One of the toughest and most fearless defenders in the league, Namoff does it all with a smile.

On another note, Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello has relented on his threat never to play Beckham and recalled him to the squad. Beckham has not played for Real since his announcement to join MLS, on Jan. 11. Madrid has gone 2-2-2 since.

Roundup — Former D.C. United goalie Nick Rimando, who was traded to FC Toronto at the end of last season has joined the New York Red Bulls. …

Real Madrid ($398 million) tops the list of the world’s wealthiest soccer clubs based on revenue, ahead of Barcelona ($352 million), Juventus ($340 million) and Manchester United ($330 million) according to the financial group Deloitte.

The figures are based on revenue made last season from ticket sales, merchandising and TV rights. However Manchester, which led the list in 2004 and has a $1.4 billion price tag, remain the most profitable club making $97.9 million in profit last year. Rounding out the top 10 are AC Milan, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, and Liverpool.

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