PHILADELPHIA -- The shot bended around the wall, a laser from 25 yards out, into the upper corner of the goal, the keeper helplessly diving to his left, empty once again.
David Beckham has scored many big goals, including tallies in three different World Cups for England, but Sunday's highlight-film free kick was his first goal in just his fourth game back since suffering what at first was considered a potential career-ending left Achilles injury.
For arguably the most famous soccer player in the world, it was a major step. The next step occurs Thursday at Chester's PPL Park when Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy visit the Union in an 6 p.m. MDT Major League Soccer game that will be played before a sure to be charged-up sellout crowd.
Sunday's goal was the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center, the home field for both teams.
"On a personal level it meant a lot, being out so long and not being able to play the game," Beckham said on Monday in a phone interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It was kind of special, my kids and family were there, and to get on the score sheet was special."
The Galaxy (16-6-5) have the most points (53) in MLS but that isn't why they are the league's hottest ticket, averaging a league-best 18,504 on the road.
"David Beckham's signing was one of the key moments in the history of MLS," commissioner Don Garber said via e-mail. "He continues to elevate soccer in North America to higher levels of excitement and popularity here and abroad."
This is a team of stars, whose best player is U.S. standout Landon Donovan, but whose biggest attraction is Beckham.
Now 35, Beckham always could attract a crowd, whether through his play, or his well-publicized marriage with his wife Victoria (Posh Spice) of the former Spice Girls.
Beckham, who signed a five-year deal in 2007 with the Galaxy and earns a guaranteed $6.5 million base salary this season according to figures from the MLS Player's Union, is keenly aware of his star power.
"I feel honored to be able to create a buzz," Beckham said. "It is obviously great for myself and our team and also great for the game in this country."
He said this will be his first time to the Philadelphia area, and is well aware of the fans' reputation for being more than a little difficult on the opposing team.
"I am looking forward to the passion of the Philadelphia fans and I know they all won't be shouting for me," he said. "That is what it should be like, the louder and more they shout, the better and sometimes that can spur you on as a team."
For all his flamboyance, Beckham showed a dedicated side not always portrayed publicly in returning from the Achilles injury that occurred while competing for Italy's AC Milan on March 14.
The injury ruined his World Cup dreams, so he set his goal on returning before the end of the MLS season.
He returned to action on Sept. 11, playing 20 minutes for the Galaxy in a 3-1 win over the visiting Columbus Crew. Beckham had one simple word for his rehabilitation period.
Then he expanded.
"I had broken bones before but never had anything this serious," he said. "For two months I couldn't do anything and then slowly I had to try to get back and my goal was to be back before six months."
He made the goal by a few days.
Another goal is to continue to compete for England's national team. After he was injured, English national team manager Fabio Capello suggested in a television interview that Beckham's career representing his country was over.
Beckham said the two talked a few days later.
"He said if I am fit and playing well, there is always a chance and he has always been that way with me," Beckham said. "It all depends on how I am playing and if I would be able to help the team."
Beckham, whose contract with the Galaxy expires after the 2011 season, doesn't want to speculate at this point if his MLS future will go beyond then.
For now, he's looking forward to preparing for the playoffs, visiting a new place on Thursday, and continuing to regain his health.
Beckham said he isn't back to full strength, which is why he is putting in double-session workouts.
As the goal on Sunday showed, even at less than 100 percent, Beckham is still in a league of his own when it comes to striking a ball and attracting a crowd.