Beckham hurt along with most of TFC starting roster
TORONTO - David Beckham's health is the least of Mo Johnston's concerns.
Not with the Toronto FC coach looking to be without as many as seven starters of his own when the MLS expansion team hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
All of Toronto's home games have been sellouts, with or without Beckham. But the Beckham buzz is such that Toronto FC actually issued a news release Tuesday, saying it had nothing to do whether the hobbled star midfielder would see action at BMO Field on the weekend.
"Consistent with all sporting events, we are not in a position to guarantee that any player will appear in a match,'' the release said. "Those decisions are determined by the coaching staff with advice from their advisers at match time.
"As with any other player under contract with either club participating in the game, should Mr. Beckham be unable to play in the game no refunds will be issued for tickets purchased.''
In a "the earth is round'' ending to the release, the club said: "Fans should be aware that Mr. Beckham has been rehabilitating an injury. His status for Sunday's game in Toronto has not been determined by the Galaxy at this time.''
Should Beckham's injured ankle allow it, Sunday's game will mark the former England captain's MLS debut. So far, Becks has been limited to 12 minutes action in a Galaxy uniform, as a substitute in a 1-0 exhibition loss to Chelsea on July 21.
Beckham has been to Toronto before. He took in a Spice Girls performance at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 11, 1998, although he couldn't remember coming to the city in a June 2005 interview with The Canadian Press.
He can probably be forgiven the memory lapse. The Toronto visit came during a bump in the Beckham road, some two weeks after he was famously red-carded for kicking out at an opponent in the loss to Argentina that eliminated England from the 1998 World Cup.
There's also a bit of Canada in Beckham's boots, His signature shoe, the Adidas PredatorPulse, uses technology developed in tandem with Prof. Gerald K. Cole and colleagues at the University of Calgary's Human Performance Laboratory, part of the school's faculty of kinesiology.
Johnston, meanwhile, has other concerns with his 5-9-4 team.
Missing in action are Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton (concussion), defenders Marvell Wynne (hamstring), Jim Brennan (broken ribs)and Andrew Boyens (broken nose, concussion), midfielder Ronnie O'Brien (knee), and forwards Jeff Cunningham (abductor) and Danny Dichio (hip flexor, sore back). All seven are starters.
The only healthy starters left are defenders Tyrone Marshall and Todd Dunivant and midfielders Carl Robinson, Andy Welsh and Maurice Edu.
"I'm not even worried about David Beckham,'' Johnston said Tuesday with a laugh. "We're going to have a full house anyways, with or without him.
"But he's a very talented player. I hope he plays. It'd be great if he does, great for our young players.''
Toronto's reserve corps is young indeed. Johnston's seven-man Canadian bench Sunday in a 3-0 loss to visiting Chicago had an average age of 22, including three teenagers who are too young to drink in Ontario.
"Right now, it's very challenging,'' Johnston said. "It's difficult because there's a lot of young guys coming into the game and they're off the pace of the MLS. Which is tough. But we'll hang in there.''
Boyens, Brennan and Dichio are the latest walking wounded, with injuries caused or exacerbated during Sunday's woeful performance against the Chicago Fire.
Brennan, the club co-captain, has said he may try playing through two broken ribs.
"He's a tough kid, he wants to play as much as he can for this club. I hold my hat out to him,'' Johnston said. "He's a very good competitor.''
There is no relief in sight, Johnston said, although he hopes to have a new goalie in place for the weekend -- reportedly former Canadian under-20 'keeper Josh Wagenaar.
The Galaxy (3-5-4) are coached by Frank Yallop, a former Canadian international and national team manager. The Los Angeles roster also features Canadian international fullback Ante Jazic, a Halifax native