David Beckham's left ankle kept him sidelined Tuesday from the Los Angeles Galaxy's game against FC Dallas in the SuperLiga tournament, but the injury hasn't hurt Major League Soccer's ticket sales.
Like nearly all of the Galaxy's road games through the end of this season, this match was sold out.
"As much as we are benefiting, there are markets across the country that are benefiting," said Alexi Lalas, the Galaxy's president and general manager. "This is a win-win situation for everybody."
For Tuesday's game in Dallas, more than 10,000 seats were sold first to season-ticket holders and then to those who bought five-game ticket packages, said FC Dallas spokesman German Sferra. Pizza Hut Park, the suburban home of FC Dallas, holds about 20,500. Some fans paid more than $200 (EUR 145) per ticket.
It's a similar story elsewhere. Beckham games have sold out around the league, which backloaded the Galaxy's schedule with road games so every MLS team could cash in.
Of the 11 remaining road games for Beckham and the Galaxy this season, eight have sold out or nearly so, according to the MLS. Those games are against Toronto, Washington, New England, Colorado, Houston, Chicago, Columbus and Chivas USA.
The other three games - against New York, Real Salt Lake and Kansas City - are in football stadiums with large capacities. More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the New York game and more than 20,000 for the other two games, including the highest advance sales in Kansas City team history.
Prior to the FC Dallas game Tuesday, there had been 15 sellouts in MLS during this regular season. Eight were in Toronto, a first-year club that has quickly developed one of the most rabid fan followings in the league. Sellouts are expected at all of Toronto FC's home games this season at 20,000-seat BMO Field.
Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said Beckham is as frustrated about not playing as fans are about not getting to see him play.
"He is desperate to start playing," Yallop said. "I can see the fans' disappointment. But they will realize he is only human, and he has a really sore ankle."
League officials acknowledge that Beckham's sputtering start in the United States is not the fairy-tale beginning they envisioned. But they stress his five-year commitment to MLS.
"We're in Hollywood here so we know what a script looks like, and this is not a movie," Lalas said. "Would we have liked to capitalize on this incredible momentum we have at this moment? Of course."
MLS commissioner Don Garber said the worst thing would be to rush Beckham's return before he is healthy.
"It is getting a staggered start for sure," Garber said. "But there are many more games and many more years for us to have David really contribute on the field."
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