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Galaxy secures top spot in Western Conference with win against San Jose

Landon Donovan scores his team-leading 12th goal of the season, and the Galaxy completes its turnaround, finishing first a year after tying for last.

October 25, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

What a difference one season makes.

Last year, the Galaxy was staring in glum disbelief at its tied-for-last-place finish in Major League Soccer.

Today, it is a first-place team, concluding its 2009 regular season Saturday night by defeating the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, at the Home Depot Center to clinch the top spot in the Western Conference.

The last time the Galaxy did that was in 2002.

What does it all mean? Not much right now.

It won't be until after today's match in Carson between Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo that they will know who their first-round opponent will be.

The Galaxy will play the loser of that game or, if it ends in a tie, the Galaxy will play Chivas USA. The playoff opener would be on the road Sunday, Nov. 1 (4:30 p.m. Pacific, ESPN2).

The second match would be Sunday, Nov. 8.

For much of Saturday night, it appeared that the first-place Galaxy would be playing the Seattle Sounders, who were losing, 1-0, at home to FC Dallas. But Seattle, coached by former Galaxy and UCLA coach Sigi Schmid, pulled out a 2-1 victory and avoided finishing fourth in the West.

The Galaxy and Seattle will not meet unless both reach the Western Conference final on Nov. 15. If that happens, the game would be in Seattle because the Sounders tied and defeated the Galaxy during the regular season.

One noteworthy aside: Seattle's Qwest Field crowd of 33,108 on Saturday was a club record and meant that the Sounders inaugural-season average of 30,943 also set a league record. The Sounders put their playoff tickets on sale Saturday morning and sold out within 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy made certain of its first-place finish by taking the game to San Jose from the start.

Beckham could have put the Galaxy in front early on, but his free kick from about 27 yards after a Bobby Convey foul on Mike Magee curled just wide of the left post.

With No. 23 having missed that opportunity in the 18th minute, it was a odd that at 23:23 the Galaxy scored.

Landon Donovan received a pass from Magee and his shot from inside the area deflected off the leg of San Jose defender Bobby Burling and looped over goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

The second goal came on an end-to-end play in the 77th minute.

Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts threw the ball to Beckham, who passed it forward to Donovan. The U.S. national team standout sent the ball wide to Chris Klein on the right, and Klein obliged by sending it back for Donovan to side-foot past Cannon for his team-best 12th goal of the season.


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