So David Beckham's impact on the Los Angeles Galaxy will have to wait until next season.
He hasn't done much for the team yet.
Injured since late August, the former England captain returned at a time the team was on a seven-game unbeaten streak without him and with a chance of making the Major League Soccer playoffs. Beckham came off the bench in the 58th minute against the Chicago Fire on Sunday with the score 0-0. The Galaxy, which needed a victory, conceded an injury time goal to lose 1-0. So that's it. Apart from some friendlies in New Zealand and Australia at the end of November, Beckham won't be wearing a Galaxy shirt again until next season and the fans haven't got much to look forward to.
Arriving in MLS with an ankle injury, Beckham made five appearances in the regular season and scored one goal before a knee problem sidelined him for another seven weeks. The Galaxy won only one game while he was on the field, a 2-0 victory over DC United in which he scored with a free kick and set up the other goal.
the time Beckham returned to action after his knee injury, the Galaxy had rebounded with five victories in a row. Maybe they didn't need him all along.
"We've had a good run but obviously early season is what affected us more than anything," Beckham said after the loss to Chicago. "We have to win games through the season instead of relying on the last five or six games to come back into it. But we've ended the season sort of on a high note &
apart from this game &
and we have to be positive about next season."
Maybe then, he'll start giving something more in return for his $5.5 million a year base salary.
All the Galaxy fans have had so far are a few glimpses of the trademark free kicks and long range passes the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star is famous for.
Now they will have to wait until next April and hope he stays away from more injuries.
"He looked tired before the end of this game and he only played 32 minutes," Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said. "It's tough not being in a game for seven weeks. Once he got into the game, he made some good passes."
Beckham's next target is trying to get fit to play in England's final Euro 2008 qualifying match Nov. 21.
But even that could be almost meaningless.
England could be virtually out of contention by then because Russia, its main rival for a qualifying spot, may already be almost sure of taking it. Russia has a game in hand and plays Israel three days before England hosts Croatia. If the Russians win that one, they then have an easy game against Andorra to finish.
Beckham's England teammates will be busy playing for their clubs in the meantime. The Galaxy won't agree to loan him to other clubs to get match sharp. So what will Beckham, who has several business interests outside soccer and some in partnership with former pop star wife Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, be doing?
"I'm a person that likes to train and work every day," he said. "That's the way it's been through my whole career for the last 15 years. I've never had more than three weeks off in the summer.
"I'll be keeping on training and keeping fit no matter what."
England will need Beckham to be fully fit if he is to make any impact on their bid to play in next year's European Championship. If he's not fit and not playing any competitive soccer, there's a chance he may not be considered by coach Steve McClaren.
Maybe his entire season is over, after all.
Beckham finished with '07 counters