08/10/2007 at 08:20 AM EDT
After a frustrating start to his American career because of a nagging ankle injury
, sexy soccer star David Beckham
has finally made his league debut – and flashed a bare chest to cheering fans.
On Thursday, a crowd of nearly 47,000 crammed Washington, D.C.'s RFK stadium (the largest soccer attendance there since a doubleheader in 2001) and cheered wildly when they realized the Brit Beefcake was finally taking to the field.
The huge display of approval "puts [into perspective] all the frustration I've had since I arrived at the Galaxy of not being able to train with the players, stepping out and seeing the reaction," Beckham, 32, told reporters at a post-game press conference.
With rain falling during the evening game, spectators roared when Beckham pulled his warm-up jacket over his head – followed by his t-shirt – baring his muscular chest before donning his team jersey to play the final 20 minutes of the game.
"It's a big step forward for me tonight, getting 20 minutes. I was happy with that," Beckham told reporters. Still, his efforts weren't enough – D.C. United beat Galaxy, 1-0.
When asked if he felt pressured by the large audience to take the field Thursday, Beckham replied, "No. I feel pressure in myself to just get back playing and get fit. That's the only pressure I feel."
Just the day before, Beckham had expressed the same sentiment on his Web site blog
"I really want to get out there and get involved. I can understand the recent frustrations of some of the supporters when I'm not fully a part of the team," he wrote Wednesday.
"I love playing soccer, and it's just as frustrating for me as I'd like nothing more than to be out there playing for the Galaxy, week in week out, but I'm getting fitter every day and now I'm training properly I'm just really looking forward to getting back on the pitch," said Beckham.