Beckham Draws a Crowd: 93,000 Plus

APTOPIX Governor Connecticut Clinton

Love him or hate him, soccer star David Beckham draws a crowd.

The famed English midfielder was booed nearly every time he touched the ball Saturday night, but also drew cheers when he scored on a free kick for the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2-1 exhibition loss to FC Barcelona before a crowd announced at 93,137 at the Rose Bowl.

With flashbulbs popping among the largest crowd for a soccer game in the United States since the 1994 World Cup, Beckham approached the ball in the 45th minute and demonstrated his free kick prowess that prompted the title of the 2002 film, "Bend it Like Beckham,'' putting a shot from about 25 yards out just under the crossbar for the goal.

 Beckham received a generally warm reception, some standing to applaud, as he left the game in the 87th minute.

FC Barcelona, the reigning European and Spanish champion, scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 67th-minute of the 90-minute game as Jeffren Suarez took a pass from Sergio Busquets, then fired a shot past charging Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders into the net.

FC Barcelona opened the scoring in the 11th minute as Pedro Rodriguez put in a rebound of a shot by Lionel Messi.

"This is a great night for soccer in America,'' Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber told reporters at halftime when the scored was tied, 1-1. "This is one of the largest crowds in the history of the sport in this country. It is a night to celebrate. Our team is standing toe-to-toe, at least in the first half, against the best team in the world today and perhaps one of the best teams of all time.''

The loss ended a six-game undefeated streak for the Galaxy in MLS and exhibition play.

The game was the first in a three-game West Coast tour by FC Barcelona, which is coming off one of the most successful seasons by a European team, winning the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey.

FC Barcelona will play Wednesday against Seattle Sounders FC of MLS in Seattle and Aug. 8 against Mexico's CD Guadalajara in San Francisco.

FC Barcelona's roster includes some of the most recognized names -- Messi, Thierry Henry, Xavi Hernandez, Rafael Marquez, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Beckham has drawn the ire of Galaxy fans for extending his loan to Italy's AC Milan from March through the May 31 end of the Serie A season, causing him to miss the Galaxy's first 17 games of the 30-game MLS season. Beckham said he wanted to extend the loan so he could continue to face top-flight competition, which would bolster his chances of remaining part of England's national team as it continues to attempt to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Many believe Beckham would prefer playing for AC Milan on a full-time basis. Beckham has said he will fulfill his contract with the Galaxy, which runs through the 2011 season.

The game was Beckham's second in Southern California in 2009. He was greeted by boos and derisive signs as he made his 2009 Southern California debut in a 2-2 tie against AC Milan July 19 in an exhibition at The Home Depot Center.

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