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Lights, cameras, action: David Beckham comes to Gillette

08.06.09 at 6:15 pm ET

While the Patriots’ Tom Brady has been the big name around Gillette lately, he might have to step aside Saturday night when David Beckham hits the turf in Foxboro. The LA Galaxy will face the Revolution Saturday night for the first time since July 4 in L.A., when the Galaxy handed the Revs their last MLS loss, a 1-0 shutout.

While Boston is no stranger to athletes-turned-divas, Beckham has taken it to the international level. The English footballer (as in soccer player) created his fame on the fields of Manchester United but is now probably more famous for his Armani advertisements and the controversy he has created in the MLS.

Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007 but it was this during this past MLS offseason, when the Brit requested the Galaxy loan him to Italian club AC Milan, that the trouble brewed. Beckham ended up extending his three-month loan to a six-month loan, well past the MLS opening day. Teammates expressed disappointment, Galaxy captain Landon Donovan questioned his commitment and fans berated him with criticism.

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl released a book two weeks before Beckham’s return to the league called “The Beckham Experiment.” In it, Donovan is quoted extensively on Beckham’s lack of effort and attitude. Beckham later responded that Donovan’s comments were “unprofessional” and so the teammate saga brewed.

After his season debut with the Galaxy on July 16 in New Jersey against the New York Red Bulls, boos and derogatory posters greeted him. In his first game back in LA four days later, the Galaxy played an international match with none other than AC Milan, the very team he had spent six months with, adding to fans’ anger. At one point, in response to some jeers from the crowd, Beckham approached the stands and prompted a fan to confront him on the field. The fan jumped down from his seat but was quickly tackled by security.

So this weekend, the legend that is David Beckham will come to Gillette. Yet the Revs refuse to focus on the distractions and aim to keep their four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) alive.

On top of the fanfare, head coach Steve Nicol will be missing the game because of an ejection from the Revs’ match last Saturday against division rival Toronto FC.

“We’re just concentrating on the game and how they go about it and how we go about it,” Nicol said. “Don’t get me wrong — it’s great that we’re going to have a big crowd and all the other stuff, but the most important thing for us (is) when we go on the field we do what we need to do. Obviously I won’t be [on the field], and I’m disappointed in that, but I will be there so Paul (Mariner) and I will be communicating during the game so we’ll go from there.”

Mariner has been Nicol’s assistant coach since joining the Revs in 2004. He will take Nicol’s place in Saturday’s match. Nicol’s last game suspension came in September of 2007.

With nearly a full team back on the field for Saturday’s match after having lost 78 man-games this season on 17 separate injuries, the Revs look to keep their unbeaten streak against the Galaxy alive. The Galaxy has never won in seven previous visits to Gillette dating back to 1999.

The Revs will need to step up their offense with Donovan on the field. The Galaxy trump the Revs in goals scored and shots on goal, with Donovan the team leader in both categories. New England has scored 19 goals in regular season play while 15 of them have come in the second half.

“I’d like to score some early goals,” said Steve Ralston. “I feel like we’re always having to come from behind and maybe it’s the fact that we’re pushing forward and bringing extra attackers on the field. We’ve been able to tie games and go for the win but in a perfect scenario we’d like to score first. It’s a struggle to do so this year, we’re always having to fight from behind and that’s difficult to do. You can’t always, you can’t do that if good teams are going to make you pay.”

Three of the next four Revs’ games in August will be at home in Gillette where the the team is 4-1-3 in MLS competition. With a league low 17 games played, the Revs hope to gain some ground in the Eastern Division standings.

Though Beckham takes the stage Saturday night at Gillette, the Revs won’t be judging or paying much attention to the circus that follows him. More than anything, they’ll just be looking to keep their streak alive.

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