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David Beckham harshly criticized FieldTurf yesterday, and suggested the artificial surface played a role in his decision to sit out last Sunday's game against Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto.

The Los Angeles Galaxy star made the comments in Washington, where he hopes to make his Major League Soccer debut against DC United at RFK Stadium tonight. RFK has natural grass, and there are indications that Beckham, who is nursing a sore left ankle, will play as a result.

"As a professional athlete, you can't play a game like soccer on that sort of field," Beckham said, referring to FieldTurf, which is in use at four MLS stadiums. "What it does to your body as a soccer player, you're in bits for three days after that."

Last month, Beckham told The Globe and Mail's Stephen Brunt that the BMO surface wouldn't be a factor in his decision to play when the Galaxy came to Toronto. His comments yesterday, however, suggest the surface was an obstacle.

"Every game, every team should have grass, without a doubt," Beckham said. "You can't ask any athlete to perform at a high level on the FieldTurf."

When asked what he would change about the MLS, the Galaxy star said: "I don't know whether I am being too controversial, but I think the fact that there are four or five teams with FieldTurf."

Asked whether the natural grass at RFK Stadium would play a role in his decision to play, he replied:

"I think it's a huge factor that it is on grass instead of FieldTurf because on FieldTurf, playing with my ankle the way it is, it's not right at the moment, it would be dangerous. But with grass, it's a lot more positive for me to play on this. We'll see. If it's not right, it's not right."

Last weekend, Beckham's Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, said the BMO Field surface "sucks."

"It's kind of a shame because it's a gorgeous stadium in a beautiful city," Donovan said. "I don't know why they decided to cut corners [at BMO Field ]but I'm not happy about it … maybe they'll change it one day."

Later, Galaxy coach Frank Yallop apologized for Donovan's comments.

A report given just before the final two games of the FIFA under-20 World Cup, held at six Canadian cities last month, showed that there was little difference in the injury rate between the games played on natural grass and artificial turf.

In fact, the injury rate was slightly lower for the games played on artificial surfaces.

Toronto FC striker Danny Dichio, who has a strained hip flexor, would not blame the artificial turf at BMO Field.

"It's a new turf and it's got a lot more give in it, so I wouldn't use it as an excuse," he said.

With a report from Associated Press