Beckham kick off in T.O.

DEAN McNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:29 PM ET

Toronto soccer fans are circling Aug. 5 on their calendar after it was announced yesterday that international superstar David Beckham will make his Major League Soccer regular season debut at BMO Stadium against this city's brand new club.

The long awaited announcement by the league's New York office assures that every one of MLS' 13 clubs will get at least one home date against Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy.

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Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston said from the team's Ontario Soccer Centre's indoor training session that hosting the Galaxy and Beckham will add much interest to the s q uad's premier season.

"We are delighted that our fans will be able to be a part of such an exciting time in the league ," Johnston said.

There is the possibility that Real Madrid could release Beckham before the end of his contract, which is scheduled to run out June 30, but recent reports from the team's management appear to discount that happening.

Beckham's reported $250-million U S five-year deal with the Galaxy drew worldwide headlines when it was announced three weeks ago.

It was suspected at the time that the cost of Beckham's salar y would somehow be spread throughout the MLS and yesterday's release of the 2007 schedule would seem to back up that theory.

" Adjustments ( to the schedule) were made to maximize David Beckham joining Galaxy in mid-July," MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said. "There was no major upheaval to ensure every team will have the Galaxy at home after mid-July."

The Toronto launch of Beckham's MLS career also leaves room for him to take part in a league friendly series in July in California against a group of Mexican Super-Liga sides. Broadcast schedule

The only fly in the MLS Beckham promotion ointment is that ESPN 2 -- which will broadcast 16 of Beckham's 17 games live -- had already decided that the Toronto FCGalaxy match would be the one left o ff its schedule.

The Toronto game kicks off a four-game road trip for Los Angeles which will also play D.C. United, New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls.


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