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A Galaxy win would be England's loss

Winner of Sunday's match advances to the Western Conference finals, and Galaxy's David Beckham wants to be there.

November 08, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Here's a bit of news that might come as a surprise to Galaxy fans: David Beckham would rather be in Carson next weekend than in Qatar.

If Beckham and the Galaxy can overcome Chivas USA today (4:30 p.m., ESPN2) in the second leg of their Major League Soccer playoff series, the English midfielder will be sticking around for the Western Conference final.

That means he would not be able to join England for its prestige friendly against Brazil in Doha, Qatar, next Saturday. But Beckham said that is not a hardship.

"I'd rather we progress in the playoffs more than anything," he said. "But everyone also knows how proud I am about playing for my country. Ideally, it would be great if it was separate, but it's not."

The Galaxy and Chivas tied the first game, 2-2, last Sunday, but the error-strewn performance by both teams gave little indication of which is stronger. Only two goals have separated the sides in four matches this season.

"There was a little bit of nerves, I think, within the team," Beckham said. "But we know we can play better than we did in the first game, and we have to if we want to progress.

"We know it's going to be a tough game against Chivas. We knew that the first time around. We know they're technically very good and they work hard and they play hard, so we have to be at the top of our game."

Midfielder Chris Klein said if the Galaxy wants to assure itself of a place in the conference final against either the Houston Dynamo or Seattle Sounders it has to "go out and dictate the game" to Chivas.

The Dynamo and Sounders tied their first match, 0-0, in Seattle and meet again today in Texas (noon, Telefutura). If either of the games today ends in a tie, there is a 30-minute overtime followed by penalty kicks.

"We made some mistakes and we weren't as sound as we'd like to be," Klein said of the 2-2 tie with Chivas. "Last game, they got that early goal and it caused us to chase a little bit. We played sloppy, they played sloppy. So we're looking for a much cleaner game Sunday."

The key to the Galaxy's chances probably rests with Landon Donovan, the team's leading goal scorer.

"We feel like we learned a little from last weekend and now we have an opportunity to put it together and advance," Donovan said.

Real Salt Lake's 1-0 and 3-2 victories over the defending champion Columbus Crew not only put Salt Lake into the Eastern Conference final against the Chicago Fire, but served as a lesson for the Galaxy.

"The first goal with any team is to make the playoffs," Donovan said. "So I think we were happy" to do that. "But then, when we qualified, we realized that we can do something special. As you see with Salt Lake-Columbus, anything can happen. We think we have as good a chance as anyone" of reaching the Nov. 22 MLS Cup final in Seattle.

Chivas is not going to roll over, though, Donovan said.

"I think all the teams in this league that have been successful have had continuity," he said. "The teams that turn over year after year with coaches, players, even the front office, are the teams that don't do well."

Chivas has "had the same core group of guys for several years. They know each other well. That's something we're trying to build and emulate. That's what makes them a tough opponent."

The Galaxy is the home team today, which pleases Beckham.

"The first game there were too many Chivas fans," he said, "but this game it will be good."


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