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Health is key for Galaxy in regular-season finale

Landon Donovan is expected to play sparingly against Seattle. David Beckham wants to get fit for the playoffs.

October 27, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Landon Donovan, who has been hobbled by injury all summer, will play as much as he can Sunday in the Galaxy's final game before the playoffs.
Landon Donovan, who has been hobbled by injury all summer, will play as much… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)

Landon Donovan doesn't know how many minutes he'll be able to play for the Galaxy on Sunday at the Home Depot Center. But he does know every one he does play will be excruciating.

"It is what it is," Donovan said of the bone bruise and torn posterior cruciate ligament that has left his left knee aching. "A lot of guys are dealing with a lot of pain right now."

But a lot of guys aren't as important to their teams as Donovan is to the Galaxy, which plays host to the Seattle Sounders at 6 p.m. in the regular-season finale for both teams. And though both teams have already clinched postseason berths, Sunday's game still looms as a huge one for the Galaxy, which will use the match to get both Donovan and midfielder David Beckham fit and sharp for Thursday's playoff opener with Vancouver.

Donovan, hobbled by injury all summer, has been out the last three weeks with knee problems that could require off-season surgery. Yet despite missing eight games this season he is second in the league in assists with 14 and second on the team in goals with nine

Beckham, whose latest ailment is a swollen left ankle, has played only one full game in the last 11 weeks. Yet he has scored a career-best seven MLS goals this season.

One player who won't be back Sunday is center back A.J. DeLaGarza, who hasn't played since straining a ligament in his left knee last month. His status for the playoffs remains uncertain, so getting — and keeping – the rest of the team healthy would appear to the Galaxy's biggest challenge now.

"It's been a while for me so I want to get some minutes, for sure," said Donovan, who is likely to play sparingly against Seattle. "It's a balance between being smart, staying sharp, hopefully avoiding injury and being ready to go Thursday.

"We're getting fit. We just need some sharpness, and it's different training every day versus playing in a real game."

Added Beckham: "What you have to prepare for is trying not to get any injuries through this game, keeping every player fit and healthy. And that's what we need to do on Sunday. You can't guarantee that, but as long as we play sensibly and play our game, then we should be good."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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