Los Angeles Soccer: Nathan Tinkler

'Beckham mania' greets Galaxy in Australia

November, 26, 2010
Excitement over David Beckham's visit and speculation over what impact, if any, that might have on Australia's 2022 World Cup bid are the prevailing themes for the Galaxy's trek Down Under.

But it's concern over the state of the turf at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle that's dominating the conversation in advance of Saturday night's game against the A-League's Newcastle Jets.

Five Jets players, including captain Ljubo Milicevic and starting goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, are sidelined with injuries sustained on their home field in the last week. Diplomacy has culled overt criticism of the turf in the lead-up to the game with L.A., but Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, as ever, provided a frank appraisal.

“There's parts of it that are very good, and there's parts that are very bad ...,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “I'm sure we'll be playing. At the end of the day, it's a friendly game, and people aren't going to be going absolutely crazy, trying to tackle and things like that. I'm sure guys will be wary in certain spots to make sure they're careful, but we'll play the way we normally play.”

Edson Buddle called it a “great pitch,” and coach Bruce Arena offered: “We heard the surface is in really poor shape. I think it's acceptable. I didn't think it was poor at all. … For the most part, I think the surface is fine.”

Organizers hope so. Newcastle officials, both civic leaders and Jets brass, want to make the best impression possible. Beckham might be the world's biggest celebrity, and his presence has the city -- located about 100 miles up the eastern coast from Sydney -- all abuzz.

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