EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — David Beckham was slow and had little impact on his return to Major League Soccer, but his Los Angeles Galaxy beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in a stadium nearly three-quarters empty on Thursday.

In his first match since the Serie A season finale on May 31, Beckham was often behind the play and seemed winded. He had no free kick chances near the goal, didn’t make any crosses that created threats, and didn’t even take all of the Galaxy corner kicks while he was in the match.

Still, fans scurried down the aisles of Giants Stadium to get better pictures when he did take corner kicks, and many booed when he was replaced in the 70th minute.

While he’s back in the U.S., the buzz has worn off.

Los Angeles drew 66,237 for its 5-4 win at New York two years ago, the largest football crowd at Giants Stadium for a U.S. league game in 27 years. Attendance dropped to 46,754 for last year’s 2-2 draw and fell by 50 percent to 23,238 on Thursday. Still, that was double New York’s average this year.

Alecko Eskandarian, Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis scored first-half goals for the Galaxy, who have won four straight MLS games for the first time in two years, and are fighting for a playoff berth.

Juan Pablo Angel had an 87th-minute penalty kick and failed to convert one in the 90th for New York, which hasn’t won since May 8.

Beckham appeared to go out of his way to be friendly with Donovan, who in a book out this week criticized his teammate as unprofessional for allegedly quitting on the Galaxy in the late stages of a disappointing 2008 season.

With the captain’s armband stripped from Beckham and restored to Donovan, the pair shook hands and embraced ahead of the opening whistle. Beckham draped his arm around Donovan after the American scored, and the two hugged after Donovan assisted on the third goal.


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