By Alfred Branch, Jr.

A sore left ankle dimmed some of the bright-lights coverage of soccer superstar David Beckham’s debut match Saturday with his L.A. Galaxy teammates, but the preliminary TV ratings told a different story for broadcaster ESPN.

Beckham may have only played about 12 minutes toward the end of the “friendly” match against English powerhouse Chelsea, but ESPN reportedly scored the network’s highest ratings for a Major League Soccer game. The 27,000 seat Home Depot Center outside of Los Angeles, where the Galaxy plays their home games, was sold out, and several Hollywood celebrities and pro athletes were in attendance. . .

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Television ratings company Nielsen said the game was watched by 1.36 million viewers on Saturday night. The number of homes that number represents was 910,000. Traditionally, according to Wikipedia, a ratings point equals about 1.1 million homes.

The sports business blog Everything But the Game reported, however, that in relation to the rest of the sports television landscape over the weekend, the Galaxy game only did so-so. Four other broadcasts, Saturday and Sunday coverage of the British Open on ABC, Fox’s Saturday afternoon baseball game and Sunday’s IRL Honda 200 auto race on ABC all garnered higher ratings.