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Beckham Might Make MLS Start on US Independence Day
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Get ready for "Independ It Like Beckham".

England football star David Beckham could make his Major League Soccer debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy on July 4, the US Independence Day holiday, under the 2007 Major League Soccer schedule released on Tuesday.

Beckham, who remains under contract to Real Madrid until the end of June, signed a $250 million deal last month to join the Galaxy once his contract with the Spanish giants expires.

And while the MLS release made no mention of Beckham's likely debut date, the Galaxy's first game after June 23 is not until July 4, a Wednesday night when the Chicago Fire will visit Los Angeles.

So on the day Americans celebrate declaring their freedom from England in 1776, MLS might have the nation's sport fans captured by "Beckham-mania".

Injuries or delays in Beckham's arrival and joining the team could alter the exact date of the former England captain's Galaxy debut, but little about Beckham and his wife Victoria's US stay is expected to be among the lackluster.

A marketing bonanza is part of the riches that created the package used to lure Beckham to the US league in a bid to spark interest in the sport and the league, so such a debut would fit with the fireworks tradition on the day.

Should that not happen, Galaxy will host Kansas City on July 7 then not play another MLS match until an August 5 visit to Toronto, four days before the Galaxy would play Beckham's first US away game at Washington against DC United.

That long gap could be perfect for giving Beckham a chance to train with his new teammates, something that would work against Beckham playing on July 4.

And while Galaxy executive Alexi Lalas indicated it might be mid-July before Beckham played with the Galaxy, the team would probably like to show off its new superstar at home before trotting him out in Canada or the US capital.

In addition to eight more games in Los Angeles, the Beckham circus would visit New England on August 12, New York on August 18, Denver on August 26, Salt Lake City on September 19, Kansas City on September 27, Columbus on September 30, Houston on October 7 and Chicago on October 21 in the final game of the MLS season.

Playoffs begin the following week with the MLS Cup final on November 18 in Washington.

The extended gap around the time of Beckham's arrival would allow the Galaxy time to participate in the new SuperLiga involving four MLS clubs and four Mexican league teams to be staged from July 24 to August 29, as well as other exhibition matches with Beckham.

Part of the break would include the MLS All-Star Game on July 19 when the US league's top talent will play against Celtic.

The 13-team MLS season opens April 7 with the Galaxy's first game coming the next day at Houston.

(China Daily via AFP February 8, 2007)

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