David Beckham sits out another MLS game with tender ankle

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – English megastar David Beckham resumed his tour of American soccer benches on Sunday, sitting out the Los Angeles Galaxy’s game against the New England Revolution to rest his tender left ankle.

Beckham has yet to start for the Galaxy since signing a five-year, $32.5 million contract to leave one of Europe’s top leagues and give the sport a boost in the skeptical United States. He made his Major League Soccer debut on Thursday, but was back on the bench against New England.

Taylor Twellman scored in the 55th minute to give the Revolution a 1-0 victory in front of 35,402 fans, many of them forced to buy four-game ticket packs for the chance to see Beckham. A few in the front row behind the benches got the former England captain’s autograph before the match, and after when he spent about a half-hour signing replicas of his Galaxy and England jerseys.

Beckham was not made available to the media after the game, but as he left the locker room he told the Associated Press, “I’m always disappointed when I can’t play. But I’m working hard so I’ll be able to play again soon.”

Beckham said he might be back “in the next week or two,” which leaves open the possibility that he will play for England in an exhibition against Germany on Aug. 22 or in European Championship qualifiers against Israel on Sept. 8 and Russia four days later.

“I know the fans are disappointed,” Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said. “We feel for the fans, because they’re excited to see him play. But at the same time we have to make sure we do the right thing by him, too. … He feels and looks better, but he’s still not 100 percent.”

Robert Kraft, the owner of the Revolution and the NFL’s New England Patriots, came over to greet Beckham just before the kickoff and brought along actors Dane Cook and Jason Biggs, who are filming the romantic comedy “Bachelor No. 2” in Boston.

The rest of the crowd had to settle for a glimpse of Becks chewing ice from a cup on the sideline. He jumped from his seat in the second row of the Galaxy bench when Landon Donovan misfired on the potential game-tying goal in the 86th minute.

When the Galaxy had a a corner kick in injury time, Beckham wasn’t able to provide one of the set pieces that made him one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

Just another powerless English back-bencher.

“He’d make a difference in any game,” Yallop said. “Let’s be honest.”

Few in the crowd seemed disappointed after the game when they clamored for Beckham’s attention as he signed autographs. One fan held up a sign that said, “Becks is my Boy”; one with a British accent shouted, “Hey, Becks, get yourself fit for the qualifier. That’s what counts.”

Beckham chatted briefly while he made his way down a frenetic autograph line behind the south goal in front of a banner that read: “He’s no Taylor Twellman.”

One 10-year-old girl was left crying as fans behind her pushed to get Beckham’s signature. But she was beaming when the soccer star reached over the wall and handed her his warmup top on his way back to the locker room.

The 32-year-old Beckham sprained his ankle while playing for England in June, then aggravated it while still with Real Madrid later that month. He played 21 minutes on Thursday as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United, but tweaked it again.

“My ankle flared up a bit after the game the other day, and it’s swollen up a little bit from flying,” Beckham said Saturday after practicing in Foxborough. “We’ll have to see how it is. It was fine running out there a little bit, but that’s all I really tried on the field.”

Beckham did not join his teammates on the field for pregame warmups, and when the rosters for the match were announced about 40 minutes before the 7 p.m. kickoff, he was not listed as a starter or a substitute.

Sixteen-year-old Dan Higgins said Beckham was the only reason he made the hour-long trip from South Kingston, R.I.

“He’s the best player in the league,” Higgins said. “So yeah, I’m disappointed. On a disappointment scale of one to 10, I’d say it’s about a nine.”

But for other fans, the much-hyped signing seemed to have the effect that MLS officials hoped for when they brought Beckham across the pond.

“I think everyone wanted to see him play. But we’re all big soccer fans, so it’s just nice to be here and see so many people at a professional soccer game,” said Joan Hopkins, who came with her daughter and three buses full of fans from the Portland, Maine, area. “Hopefully the interest in David Beckham will help build momentum in the popularity of the sport.”

Kate Hopkins, 10, said she was “pretty bummed out” after traveling nearly three hours.

“I wanted to see him because he’s a good player,” she said, “but my mom thinks he’s cute.”

Even some of the Revolution players had been hoping Beckham would play.

“It’s exciting,” New England defender Michael Parkhurst said after practice on Saturday. “We grew up watching him, and obviously he’s one of the best in the world.”

AP freelance reporter Juliet Pennington contributed to this story.