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Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham (left) is shown the yellow card by referee Terry Vaughan after a challenge on Toronto FC 's Julian de Guzman during first half MLS action in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. (Chris Young)
Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham (left) is shown the yellow card by referee Terry Vaughan after a challenge on Toronto FC 's Julian de Guzman during first half MLS action in Toronto on Wednesday April 13, 2011. (Chris Young)

Beckham's star power offset by dim game Add to ...

We've all heard it before but somehow we always seem to forget: All that glitters ain't gold.

The presence of Tinseltown's finest and their captain for the day - a certain David Beckham, you may have heard of him - certainly all but guaranteed the former, but it needed an alchemist with far greater powers than the former England captain to turn the on-pitch entertainment at BMO Field into something other than one of the baser metals in the periodic table. As a result, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Toronto FC barely broke out of their stupor in a 0-0 draw at BMO Field Wednesday night.

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Surprisingly for a man with a penchant for the fastest, and most luxurious, cars that money can buy, the man of the moment was unable to stir his team out of first gear for any length of time, although the visitors were missing usual captain Landon Donovan from their quick-fire attack.

Still, when you possess a cultured right foot like the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man you only require a second to change a game, and No. 23 nearly produced what everyone in the sellout crowd of 22,453 had come to see in the 70th minute.

Following a foul by TFC centre back Adrian Cann L.A. midfielder Juninho, Beckham was presented with the opportunity for one of his trademark free kicks and with a hushed crowd waiting expectantly, he stepped up to crash his shot off the right upright and the opportunity was gone.

"It's something I've seen him do many, many times," said TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei of Beckham's ability to bend the ball into the net. "I just wanted to make sure that if he wanted to go over the wall to the near post he had to curl it out wide and hit a pretty good shot, and he almost did, but he didn't, so that's good for us."

But Beckham, who was equally booed and cheered, likely depending on the sex of the onlooker, made sure the fans didn't go home empty-handed. He took time to showcase his other well-known footballing talent - his ever-troubling petulance - by picking up himself a yellow card in the 44th minute, his fifth in six games this season, to earn himself a one-game suspension for the Galaxy's next game in Chicago.

Beckham - who felt his team was still "better on the night" - has been less than impressed with the standard of officiating this season.

"To be honest, over the last few games I've spoke too much about referees," he said. "They're becoming the stars of the MLS and that's obviously not what teams and clubs want."

With the hype generated by Beckham's first game in a Galaxy uniform in Toronto, the occasion certainly warranted something special, with the biggest crowd of the year in attendance at BMO Field.

And had it not been for Stefan Frei, captain for the day in the absence of Maicon Santos, who sat out with flu-like symptoms, the fans would have seen their hometown heroes fall behind within 60 seconds of the opening kickoff.

TFC old boy Chad Barrett, traded to the Galaxy at January's draft for future considerations, provided the first deft touch of the day, redirecting Mike Magee's cross into the path of Sean Franklin, whose goal-bound blast was parried to safety by an alert Frei.

And it was Barrett, never the most clinical of finishers during his two-and-a-quarter seasons in Toronto and whose homecoming had been completely overshadowed thanks to the presence of a certain former England captain, nearly forced his way into the headlines before the quarter-hour mark. After a non-call against Magee for what seemed a clear foul on TFC forward Alen Stevanovic, the Galaxy moved the ball quickly to Barrett, who beat two defenders before crashing a shot off the underside of the crossbar. It was the perfect summation of his BMO Field career - good, but not good enough, but like numerous TFC coaches before him, Galaxy boss Bruce Arena chose to accentuate the positives: "He worked hard."

Frei, for one, was certainly glad to keep his erstwhile teammate off the scoresheet.

"I wouldn't have been too happy to be honest with you," he said of the possibility of Barrett scoring against him. "He played well today. It's good to see him do well, but it's better to see him not score against us."

But Toronto had chances to steal the full three points too, most notably a pair of headers, one in each half, off of free kicks that both Gianluca Zavarise and the 5-foot-2 Joao Plata could easily have scored from, but instead saw Donovan Ricketts live up to his reigning Major League Soccer goalkeeper of the year standing with stunning saves to keep the home side frustrated, but unbeaten at home five games into this young season.

Follow on Twitter: @paulattfield

 

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