Los Angeles Soccer: Eddie Lewis
Landon Donovan gave the Galaxy a seventh-minute lead Saturday. Juninho made it 2-0 about a minute later.
Donovan's chest-in of a sweet, one-bounce cross from Sean Franklin gave L.A. the early advantage in its friendly against Australia's Newcastle Jets, but in an echo of one of the World Cup's great controversies -- and especially of Frank Lampard's blast against Germany -- Juninho's strike didn't count.
The Brazilian midfielder took a feed from David Beckham and unleashed a rocket off the underside of the crossbar just eight minutes in. The ball ricocheted down and bounced out, and referee Matthew Breeze
and linesman Rod Allen ruled it had not crossed the goal line.
Video replays demonstrated otherwise.
It was only a friendly, so no big deal in the grand scheme, but here's more evidence that it's time for goal-line technology.
A 2-0 scoreline so early might have shaken the Jets' young lineup, which instead rebounded quickly and dominated play the rest of the first half and much of the second en route to a 2-1 victory in Newcastle, Australia.
It was a deserved victory for the home team, except that it wasn't. A 2-2 scoreline would have been fair, but the better side did prevail.
The Galaxy lacked intensity in midfield -- what did we expect; their season ended two weeks ago, and vacation awaits -- and struggled to deal with the mobility of the Jets' outside backs and the quality of service from the flanks.
Sasho Petrovski scored the equalizer in the 39th minute with a fine header from Ali Abbas' cross, and Kosovo-born, Sydney-raised substitute Labinot Haliti scored the winner eight minutes into the second half with a precise finish after A.J. DeLaGarza failed to adequately deal with a long ball.
Donovan's goal was nice -- maybe not as nice as Juninho's, but who's quibbling? Beckham played a ball forward on the right, Edson Buddle touched it to Chris Birchall, who quickly sent it wide to Franklin, whose first-time cross bounced stealthily between goalkeeper Matthew Nash and a defender. Donovan, racing in behind, only had to put his chest to it, and voilą!
Other talking points:
- The Galaxy is 0-2 in friendlies on Australian soil. They fell to Sydney FC three years ago.
- Beckham went the full 90, probably 30 minutes more than he might have -- his lower back clearly was bothering him -- but he's who the sellout crowd of 23,317 came to see, and he wasn't about to leave. (DeLaGarza was the only other player to go 90 for the Galaxy.) He might have had a goal, too, with a blast from Donovan's feed just before halftime, smashing it just past the far post.
- In their final professional games, Eddie Lewis played the second half and Chris Klein got 28 minutes in. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made sure everyone saw action except third-string goalkeeper Brian Perk and reserve defender Leonardo.
- Petrovski, 35, apparently lobbied Arena for a job next season. He then gave the kind of performance deserving of consideration.
- Donovan Ricketts was called upon to make one big save, keeping L.A. ahead with a reaction stop on a Petrovski header at the left post in the 14th minute.
- Man of the match: Jets midfielder Kasey Wehrman, who was key to Newcastle's midfield dominance, repeatedly got the better of Juninho in the one-on-one battles, pushed forward with vigor and delivered set pieces far more dangerous than Beckham's. It was from his long ball that Haliti netted the winner. Runner-up: Jets midfielder Abbas, an Iraqi-born attacker with free reign -- and his movement and service caused havoc for L.A.'s defense.
- Newcastle owner Nathan Tinkler donated $5,000 to charity for every goal scored. That's $15,000. Donovan suggested in the postgame presser that, in the spirit of fair play, Tinkler ought to add another $5K for Juninho's.
TORONTO -- This is where the Galaxy wanted to be, planned to be: In Canada's largest city, preparing for Sunday's MLS Cup title game, 90 minutes from the club's first Major League Soccer championship in five years.
The disappointment from last weekend's loss to FC Dallas in the Western Conference final slowly is ebbing away, replaced by a broader perspective of what the Galaxy accomplished over eight months and what will be required to reach next year's goal: winning the MLS Cup title, of course.
L.A. posted the best record during MLS's regular season (18-7-5) -- that would have meant the championship in most leagues on the planet -- it won the Western Conference title, claimed the Supporters' Shield for the third time (gaining entry to the group stage of next season's CONCACAF Champions League) and came just a handful of miraculous Kevin Hartman saves of reaching an MLS-record seventh title game.
All in all, not bad. Just not good enough.
“It hurts. There's only one team that's happy at the end of the year,” defender Todd Dunivant said a few days after FC Dallas' 3-0 triumph ended the Galaxy campaign. “It was a tough ending for us. We had every intention to get back to the Cup [after losing on penalties to Real Salt Lake in last year's final] and win it this year. But we've looked at the positives, too. We won the Supporters' Shield and qualified for the Champions League, so there are a lot of positives to take out of it.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts acknowledges “it means a lot to lead the regular season. It's good. But in this league, it means nothing. Ultimately, you have to play the playoffs and get to MLS Cup. So the Supporters' Shield is only a consolation for me, personally.
“It's not bad we got some silverware. But that's not what I play for. I play for MLS Cup.”
Retiring midfielders Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein will wrap up their careers in Australia; both are the 22-player travel roster for next week's season-ending friendly against the Newcastle Jets.
Will it also be the finale for Gregg Berhalter?
The 37-year-old defender, who played just twice during the season's final three months after contracting what was described as a mystery ailment, acknowledges he is considering retirement but promises he won't make a hasty decision.
“I'm gonna take some time and think about it …,” Berhalter said as the Galaxy prepared for Tuesday's trek to Australia, where they will face the Jets next Saturday 100 miles up the coast from Sydney. “I have to make a decision if I'm gonna play or not going to play, it's as simple as that. I'm gonna take some time to decide.”
The Galaxy might be the favorite heading into Sunday evening's Western Conference final at Home Depot Center (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 6 p.m.), but FC Dallas, too, has the look of a champion, and neither side would be a surprise in the Nov. 21 MLS Cup final in Toronto.
This one could be decided by the slimmest of margins, no matter what the score, and the team that best couples an effective attack with firm, committed team defense is likely to head off to Canada for a showdown with the Colorado Rapids.
What does the Galaxy need to reach its seventh MLS Cup title game?
1. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE D
L.A.'s players are talking up an attack-first approach, saying they're at home and plan to apply heavy pressure on FC Dallas' defense from the opening whistle. There's something to that -- the Galaxy put Seattle on its heels early in last week's playoff victory at HDC -- but we're betting they're not being entirely truthful.
The dominance of Seattle in the first-round series was based on suffocating, full-field defending from everybody in the lineup, and that's what it's going to take to shut off the Hoops' dynamic, quick-strike attack.
The key is keeping a close eye and lots of bodies on MVP favorite David Ferreira, a superb playmaker whose touch and vision are special and whose tendency to drift into unexpected positions makes him particularly difficult to deal with. His ability to find runners from midfield and on the wing and connect with speedy finisher Jeff Cunningham up top are deadly; if he finds much success, the Galaxy are done for.
Ferreira carved up Real Salt Lake's league's-best defense in the first round, but stats don't mean a whole lot in this sport, and L.A.'s defensive play the past few weeks -- in the first truly important matches the club has played this season -- has bordered on perfect. Not always in terms of execution, mind you, but the emphasis on swallowing up space in midfield, denying access behind the backline and pressuring opposing midfielders to do something other than what they prefer made the difference certainly against the Sounders.
It's not only about the defenders and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, all of whom have been really solid, even better than that. (Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza look like the central partnership going forward; Sean Franklin has evolved into a complete right back; why, again, is Eddie Lewis retiring?) It's Edson Buddle's tireless work up front, the commitment Landon Donovan and David Beckham are making to defend from box to box; and, of course, Dema Kovalenko's take-no-prisoners style in the middle.
All of them will have to be sharp against FC Dallas, which is more athletic, just as dynamic, possibly faster and certainly more dangerous with Ferreira pulling the strings than the Seattle side L.A. conquered the past two weeks.
2. THE SMART GAME WINS
The Galaxy's primary advantages Sunday are home field and experience. They're a team with a lot of big-game veterans -- Beckham and Donovan most of all -- who know how to win when there's no other option.
The Galaxy, more so than any other team in the league, can gut out victories by sheer will whether or not they have more of the ball or most of the game. Nobody manages a game as does L.A. coach Bruce Arena, and his team will disrupt the Hoops in every way it can. Look for early, professional fouls that destroy rhythm and momentum, and for tough, physical play, some of which -- especially when Kovalenko is involved -- might “push the envelope,” as associate head coach Dave Sarachan puts it.
L.A. needs to attack aggressively but be smart about it. FC Dallas likes to counterattack, and its speed and precision can tear up defenses when numbers are even or close to it, so the Galaxy must keep their shape no matter the occasion and make sure the Hoops can't get their transition into high gear.
If that requires an ugly game, so be it. Winning is all that matters; nobody knows this better than the Galaxy.
3. TAKE YOUR CHANCES
The Galaxy has rallied from behind to win just once all season, in its victory over Dallas in the regular-season finale three weeks ago at HDC. The Hoops have surrendered the first goal and rallied to tie or win eight times, including the first-leg triumph over RSL in the first round.
Scoring first is always vital, but the Galaxy's success early in the season was built on a knack for early goals, and they'll be in much better shape here if they can strike quickly.
They're going to have chances -- FC Dallas' defense is good, especially in midfield (with team leader Daniel Hernandez) and in the nets (with former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman), but it's not spectacular. L.A. might not have as many weapons as the Hoops, and they certainly have nobody who can create as Ferreira does, but their 1-2-3 punch of Beckham, Donovan and Buddle is unmatched in MLS.
Donovan can create from nothing, and Beckham's service -- especially on set pieces (which will likely prod the Hoops to use for defensive purposes 6-foot-4 Brek Shea on the left flank rather than 5-5 Marvin Chavez) but also from the run of play -- provides danger any time he has the ball on the wing in opposing territory. Juninho complements them nicely, and Lewis (or Todd Dunivant, if he gets the call at left back) and Franklin are solid on forays forward.
Key will be Buddle, who's big, quick, skillful and has scored 19 goals this season. He's equally capable with his feet and his head and has had his share of spectacular finishes. When he gets his chances, he needs to put them away.
The Galaxy is seeking their record seventh MLS Cup title-game appearance, and FC Dallas is aiming to reach the final for the first time. Who has the advantage in Sunday night's Western Conference final at Home Depot Center (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 6 p.m.)?
Let's take it piece by piece.
GALAXY: Donovan Ricketts
FC DALLAS: Kevin Hartman
Ricketts was MLS's Goalkeeper of the Year. Hartman probably deserved the honor, and had he not missed the final six weeks of the regular season with a sprained right medial collateral ligament -- product of that dumb Thierry Henry celebration -- he surely would have won. Ricketts is the more athletic, and he was sensational against Seattle, the most important figure in the victory up north.
Hartman (Palos Verdes/Peninsula HS and UCLA), still revered in L.A. for his decade of service to the Galaxy, has had a career resurrection in North Texas, and he bears most of the credit for the Hoops' magical campaign. There are few better shot-stoppers in American soccer, and nobody commands his box better than Hartman.
Both prefer to parry than catch in tight situations, and both make the mind-boggling saves that make a difference. Hartman might be a better decision-maker, but there's no denying Ricketts' form.
GALAXY: Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza/Gregg Berhalter and Eddie Lewis/Todd Dunivant
FC DALLAS: Jackson Goncalves/Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Jair Benitez
1. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: L.A.'s smart, gritty -- Seattle coach Sigi Schmid called it “grisly,” although he might have meant “grizzled” -- approach to both legs of the series made the difference. They neutralized the Sounders' speedy flank game by shutting off wingers Steve Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi (great work, again, by Sean Franklin and Eddie Lewis) and gave central midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Nathan Sturgis no room to work.
The backline was superb, but it's a team effort all over the field, and the efforts by Landon Donovan and David Beckham -- in assisting Franklin and Lewis with their assignments, but also in pinching in and teaming with Juninho and Dema Kovalenko to clog passing lanes and destroy options -- was inspirational.
The Galaxy's first hour is as good a primer on team defense you'll ever find.
2. QUICK STRIKES: Seattle had to score to stay alive, and they weren't going to find it easy the way the Galaxy's defense was playing and the kind of form goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is in. So when L.A. added to its 1-0 advantage from last week's first leg, with Edson Buddle's header from Beckham's corner kick, the Sounders' task became much harder.
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
The Galaxy's David Beckham, right, says of his first assist off a corner kick: "The ref pointed over to the side where I went." Seattle coach Sigi Schmid says Beckham outsmarted the referee to give himself a more favorable position.
CARSON, Calif. -- It was certainly a frustrating playoff series for Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. The Galaxy's defensive mindset greatly limited what his usually dynamic attack could do, and when chances showed up, the finish left much to be desired.
But the former Galaxy coach, who grew up in L.A. and Torrance, played at Bishop Montgomery High School and played and coached at UCLA, was not in a generous mood after either of the Sounders' losses.
After the first game, in Seattle, he called Edson Buddle's sensational strike in a 1-0 Galaxy victory “fortunate,” dismissing it as a shot in which “he just turns and hits the ball in basically the direction of the goal. It can go anywhere, and it went in.”
After Sunday's loss in another game largely defined by the Galaxy's superb defensive effort over the first hour, he said that he “thought we did more things to ourselves in the first half” than the Galaxy did, then expressed his dismay that referee Baldomero Toledo and his linesmen let the craftier Galaxy get away with gamesmanship.
He's right, in part. L.A. was the craftier side, the more veteran side, just as the Galaxy were in the first leg a week ago. It was the foundation of their defensive superiority and their ability to attack more effectively with fewer chances.
Schmid was especially unhappy with the Galaxy's first goal Sunday, a David Beckham corner kick that floated over three players -- 6-foot-5 Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and Sounders defender Patrick Ianni and forward Blaise Nkufo -- to Buddle, who shook off Tyrone Marshall to nod the ball powerfully past goalkeeper Kasey Keller and into the net.
A look at Sunday's postseason action:IN BRIEF: The Galaxy romps into the Western Conference final with a 2-1 victory, surging ahead, 3-0, on aggregate after just 27 minutes on Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez headers from David Beckham set pieces. L.A. is home against FC Dallas next Sunday at 6 p.m., with the winner heading to the Nov. 21 MLS Cup final in Toronto.
BEST PLAYER: So hard to choose just one. This was one of the most comprehensive team performances of the season for the Galaxy, and major contributions were made all over the field. The midfield's defensive play was exceptional -- especially Landon Donovan's and Dema Kovalenko's -- and Sean Franklin and Eddie Lewis again eliminated Seattle's flank play. A.J. DeLaGarza was nearly flawless in central defense, and his partner, Gonzalez, was just as good and sprinted from Patrick Ianni's mark to head home to second, Sounders-killing goal. Donovan Ricketts commanded his box … and a few portions outside his box when needed in the opening minutes. Buddle's work to nod home the first was exemplary. But if we can choose just one, how about Beckham, whose dead-ball service made the difference.
BEST GOAL: Both were gems, so take your pick. Beckham floated a corner kick into the middle in the 19th minute, dropping it over Gonzalez, Ianni and Blaise Nkufo for Buddle -- winning a wrestling match with Tyrone Marshall -- to forcefully head into the net. Eight minutes later, Beckham's free kick toward the near, left, post found Gonzalez sprinting into open space, and the big defender glancing header left Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller no chance.
BIGGEST STOP: The Sounders got free in L.A.'s box on three occasions, although they made nothing out of it. Steve Zakuani should have in the 67th, when the ball squirted out of a scrum to leave him one-on-one with Ricketts, but the Jamaican goalkeeper went down to make a body save to keep the shutout going. (Zakuani finally got his in the final minutes, taking a defender-splitting pass from Nate Jaqua, beating Gonzalez and firing over Ricketts and into the goal's ceiling.)
WORTH NOTING: The Galaxy and FC Dallas -- or the Dallas Burn, as the Hoops were then known, met in the 1999 Western Conference final, with L.A. prevailing in a best-of-three series as Carlos Hermosillo scored three goals and Mauricio Cienfuegos netted two more. … The Galaxy is 11-5-2 in Western Conference finals and MLS semifinals, and they're 2-1-0 since the move to the single-game format, losing to Kansas City in 2004 and beating Colorado in 2005 and Houston last year.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. Can you hear the Sounders sing? No, no. We can't hear (expletive) anything.” -- Angel City Brigade, the most vocal of the Galaxy supporters groups, serenades Seattle fans three sections over.
L.A. Galaxy 2 (Buddle 19, Gonzalez 27), Seattle 1 (Zakuani 86)
(Galaxy advances on aggregate, 3-1)
West: FC Dallas at L.A. Galaxy, Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
East: San Jose at Colorado, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
That means veteran Eddie Lewis (Cerritos/Cerritos HS and UCLA) is in at left back in place of Todd Dunivant. Lewis was superb as a last-minute starter in last week's first leg after Dunivant pulled out with a hamstring strain.
Dunivant trained all week and was ready to go, but Arena decided to stick with a winning formula.
Only one, expected change by Seattle, with Tyrone Marshall stepping into central defense in place of Jeff Parke, who sprained his ankle in last week's game.
Galaxy: G Donovan Rickets; D Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Eddie Lewis; M David Beckham, Juninho, Dema Kovalenko and Landon Donovan; F Edson Buddle and Mike Magee.
Seattle Sounders: G Kasey Keller; D James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Patrick Ianni and Leo Gonzalez; M Sanna Nyassi, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis and Steve Zakuani; F Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo.
More important: David Beckham should be at full strength after testing his Achilles' tendon in last week's first leg on Qwest Field's artificial surface. The English midfielder, who missed six months after rupturing the left Achilles' last March while playing for AC Milan, said after the Galaxy's 1-0 victory in Seattle that it was sore throughout the match.
“It's taken me a few days to get over it, I must admit,” Beckham said Friday. “It was the first time I played on [artificial] turf since the Achilles'; I'm almost recovered from it. … It's an aching kind of thing for a good few days. After each game, there's an aching effect, but after the game the other day there was more so.”
It seems everyone was affected by the Qwest turf in some manner.
“When you play on turf, everyone comes off the field sore,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “A bunch of guys were hurting on Tuesday. The surface is tough. I think the soreness is kind of natural.”
Robert Mora/MLS via Getty Images
A.J. DeLaGarza, above, has teamed on the Galaxy with former college teammate Omar Gonzalez to form a solid tandem along the backline.
The Galaxy expects Todd Dunivant and Gregg Berhalter to be ready for Sunday's second leg of their first-round playoff series against Seattle. Doesn't mean either will be in the starting XI.
L.A.'s defensive performance in the series opener in Seattle could mean another starting assignment for Eddie Lewis, whose expertise in shutting down the Sounders' right-flank attack was vital to last weekend's 1-0 victory, and A.J. DeLaGarza, who has partnered Omar Gonzalez in central defense in four of the Galaxy's last five games.
Dunivant, who suffered a right hamstring strain in training Thursday and was a game-time decision last Sunday to sit out, said an MRI this week showed no significant damage. He practiced fully Wednesday, the Galaxy's first full training session this week, said he was "very optimistic" he'd be available this weekend.
"I'm trying to be smart about it and ease into the week a little bit, not test it too much," said Dunivant, the Galaxy's first-choice left back. "But I did everything today and didn't have any restrictions. So that's a good sign."
Dunivant likely will return to the lineup if he's fit, although he said the Galaxy was "in good hands either way" coach Bruce Arena decides to go.
IN THE MIDDLE: Berhalter, who has started just once (Oct. 16 in a 3-1 loss to Colorado) since he was hit with what's been described as a mysterious virus in mid-October, was a late substitute in Sunday's game. Asked if he could go 90 minutes if called upon, he said: "That's a tough question. Of course, I'm there to help the team, do whatever the coach asks me to do."
Dema Kovalenko of the Galaxy dribbles against Nathan Sturgis (12) of the Sounders during Sunday's playoff game.
SEATTLE -- The Galaxy heads home for the second leg of their first-round Major League Soccer playoff series against the Seattle Sounders with a 1-0 advantage after a near-perfect performance in an encounter so ugly it was, well, beautiful.
You'll find little agreement on that among anyone who watched -- especially the disappointed 35,521 packed into Qwest Field -- and few who played. Saturday's was a chippy, disjointed affair that favored the Galaxy on two fronts: Edson Buddle's miracle goal in the 38th minute and Donovan Ricketts' stalwart performance in the nets.
The beauty was in the precision with which the Galaxy engineered its disrupt-and-disgust game plan and how effectively it took the Sounders out of their game.
How did L.A. pull it off? Here are three reasons:
1. DEMA'S BOOTS
Ukrainian-born Dema Kovalenko is the fiercest (opponents might say dirtiest) tackler in MLS, and he was going to kick shins and keep kicking shins until referee Ricardo Salazar finally produced a yellow card.
It took Salazar, who had several conversations about tactics with the Galaxy defensive midfielder, until the 65th minute, and by then Kovalenko had forced the Sounders -- looking to play fluid, passing soccer on the slick, quick artificial turf -- completely off their game.
“I think they thought they'd have an easy game,” Kovalenko said. “You know, [Osvaldo] Alonso likes to get the ball and spray and this and that, but not today, my friend. Not today.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid declined to talk about the brutality -- “The refs are the refs,” he offered -- but he had a word with Salazar.
“This guy went to the referee and said I should be out of the game. I heard him saying it, you know what I mean?” Kovalenko said. “He can say what he wants, it doesn't matter.”
Frustratring foes is Kovalenko's game. It's, he said, “what I had to do. It's physical. … If the referee thinks its a yellow card, it's a yellow card. But you don't have to tell him what's going on. So I told [Schmid] something, too, you know what I mean?”
Once cautioned, Kovalenko's effectiveness was done. A second yellow is a red card, and he'd have been out of next Sunday's second leg at the Home Depot Center. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena pulled him five minutes later.
A look at Sunday's MLS postseason action:IN BRIEF: One moment of brilliance -- by Edson Buddle in the 38th minute -- in a quick-paced, overly physical encounter gives the Galaxy a 1-0 victory in front of 35,521 at Qwest Field in Seattle, a substantial advantage heading into next weekend's home leg in the two-game, total-goals playoff series.
BEST PLAYER: Buddle's goal outshined all else, and A.J. DeLaGarza's pace and energy enabled L.A. to shut off access to the Sounders' dynamic attack. And when chances did arrive, goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was up to the task. making big stops on Fredy Montero, Nathan Sturgis and Nate Jaqua.
But best of all was Omar Gonzalez, who expertly organized the Galaxy's backline, won the battles in the middle with Blaise Nkufo and combined with his old University of Maryland teammate DeLaGarza, right back Sean Franklin and surprise left back Eddie Lewis to limit the danger posed by the Sounders' speed.
BEST GOAL: There was just one, and what a beauty -- maybe the nicest of Buddle's 18 this season. With two touches, one to bring down Gonzalez's long ball and push past Seattle defender Patrick Ianni (an incredible move on its own) and the next a half-volleyed lob that cleared goalkeeper Kasey Keller and nestled just inside the right post, Buddle turned this series on its head.
The goal was Buddle's first in postseason since Halloween 2004, when he scored in Columbus' 1-1 draw with New England.
BIGGEST STOP: Ricketts made a season-high eight saves, seven in the first half, the best from a close-range Montero header after Ianni nodded Sturgis' 23rd-minute corner kick toward the net. The big Jamaican acrobatically tipped the ball over his crossbar.WHAT'S UP WITH THIS?: Steve Zakuani scored just 32 seconds into the game and hit the left post in the 64th minute -- but he was offside on both. He switched from the left flank (where Franklin did a decent job on him) to the right (where he lined up against aging Lewis) when Leo Fernandez came on in the 71st minute. DeLaGarza moved from the middle to left back when Gregg Berhalter entered in the 84th, a wise tactical move in reply.
Seattle 0, L.A. Galaxy 1 (Buddle 38)
Second leg: Sunday at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes
OTHER SECOND LEGS
San Jose at New York, 5 p.m., ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
Colorado at Columbus, 1 p.m., TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)
FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
All times Pacific
SEATTLE -- They just flashed the starting lineups on the big screen at Qwest Field, and the Galaxy fans have got to be wondering what's going on. Bryan Jordan and Eddie Lewis on the backline?
Well, no. Lewis (Cerritos/Cerritos HS and UCLA) is there, at left back, in place of Todd Dunivant, whose ailing right hamstring didn't respond well in Friday's training session. This could be the final start for Lewis, 36, who's retiring at season's end.
Jordan (Temple City/Temple City HS) did a nice job neutralizing Sounders winger Steve Zakuani in L.A.'s 4-0 win at Qwest in May, when he started in place of an injured Sean Franklin, but his inclusion on the lineup sheet Sunday was in error. Franklin is at right back; Jordan did not make the trip.
A.J. DeLaGarza is in central defense, next to Omar Gonzalez. Gregg Berhalter is available off the bench.
Juninho’s volley just 31 second into the second half lifted the Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas at Home Depot Center in their regular-season finale, giving L.A. its second successive Western Conference title and its third Supporters’ Shield.David Beckham also tallied for the Galaxy (18-7-5), which overcame a 22nd-minute deficit. They needed at least a draw to win the conference and Shield titles after Real Salt Lake rallied Saturday night to tie Colorado.
The Galaxy will face the Seattle Sounders in the first round of the MLS playoffs. The opener will be next Sunday at Qwest Field in Seattle (ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes, 5 p.m.), and the finale in the home-and-home series is slated for Sunday, Nov. 7 at HDC (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 6 p.m.).
The Supporters' Shield, for best regular-season record, gives the Galaxy a berth in the group phase of next season's CONCACAF Champions League.
Edson Buddle failed to score and finished second, to San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, in the Golden Boot race. Wondolowski netted his 18th goal of the season in the Earthquakes’ loss Saturday at Kansas City; Buddle’s best opportunity for his 18th, a header from Beckham’s corner kick in the 67th minute, was parried by FC Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala.
Former Chivas USA midfielder Atiba Harris gave Dallas the lead after a Sean Franklin giveaway, but Beckham tied the score in the 33rd after Landon Donovan got away with shoving Hoops defender Jackson Goncalves, who was shepherding the ball over the end line, and played the ball back. Beckham hit a low drive inside the left post from 20 yards.
Juninho scored the winner after Dallas defender Zach Loyd headed away a cross from Donovan.
Midfielders Chris Klein and Eddie Lewis, who are retiring, were brought at the finish.
The playoff matchups:
Galaxy (18-7-5) vs. Seattle Sounders (14-10-6)
Real Salt Lake (15-4-11) vs. FC Dallas (12-4-14)
New York Red Bulls (15-9-6) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (13-10-7)
Columbus Crew (14-8-8) vs. Colorado Rapids (12-8-10)
The Galaxy would be home for the one-game Western Conference final if it beats Seattle. The MLS Cup championship is Nov. 1 in Toronto.