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Beckham driven to add MLS Cup title to his resume

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s David Beckham will be the first to admit he had a tough week following last Sunday’s playoff victory over the Sounders in Seattle.

The 35-year-old midfielder had a difficult time bouncing back from playing on the artificial playing surface at Qwest Field, where the Galaxy captured a hard-earned 1-0 victory, and head coach Bruce Arena said it wasn’t until Friday that Beckham’s recovery started to take a turn for the better.

Beckham said that he was probably even in worse shape than his coach knew, but that did not stop him from putting in one of his best performances in a Galaxy shirt

He appeared to be in top form from the very start of the second leg of his team’s Western Conference Semifinals Series and contributed two brilliant assists in the Galaxy’s 2-1 victory over the Sounders. The Galaxy advanced by winning the series 3-1 on aggregate and will host FC Dallas next Sunday at The Home Depot Center for the Western Conference Championship and the right to play in MLS Cup, which is scheduled for Nov. 21 at BMO Field in Toronto.

Beckham helped give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute on a corner kick that Edson Buddle headed into the net past Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Beckham’s second assist was a thing of beauty, this time finding Omar Gonzalez with a perfectly-placed free kick for an impressive header and goal in the 27th minute.

Beckham also came close to scoring on a free kick in the 44th minute, but his 30-yard effort missed the corner of the Seattle net by no more than a yard with Kasey Keller beaten in the Seattle goal.

“He was terrific,” Arena said about Beckham. “The second one, in particular, the one that Omar scored on, was a great goal.

“His reputation on set pieces is well-known, well-respected and well-earned. Tonight it was the difference in the game.”

Beckham, who resumed playing with the Galaxy on Sept. 11 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon while on loan to AC Milan in mid-March, downplayed his prowess on set pieces and gave credit to his teammates for making them count Sunday.

“Obviously it’s what I’ve done for many years,” he said. “Obviously it’s important for me to have players to put the ball on the top of their heads or on their feet. I know that if I put the ball in the right area, we’ve got brave enough players and good enough players to score goals.

“It worked tonight. Some other games it didn’t work. Tonight it worked.”

Galaxy teammate Mike Magee said he could not think of anyone better in those situations.

“No, not in the world, maybe not ever,” Magee said. “Every time he gets the ball you know you’ve got to try to get open, no matter how tired you are. When he has a set piece he’s lethal, as he proved tonight and as he’s proved in World Cups, Champions Leagues, on the grandest stage.

“It’s no different here.”

Magee said the team appears to be feeding off Beckham’s energy.

“One hundred percent,” Magee said. “When you see a guy with the things he’s done in his career, the accolades, the trophies he’s won to still be putting forth as much effort and be battling as hard as he is in a game like this, why can’t I?

“Everyone else has to follow his lead.”

Beckham, who played in only seven regular season games and admitted he’s still feeling more than his share of his aches and pains as he builds up match fitness, said his drive is the same as always despite the limited playing time this season.

“I’m always driven to be successful,” he said. “I’m always driven to win. Obviously having the injury was a disappointment for myself, but my drive has never been an issue. I’ve always wanted success.

“I’m 35 years old now, and I still want it as much as I did when I was 18, 19 years old.”

The Galaxy face FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship on Sunday, November 14 at 6 p.m. at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are available as low as $20! BUY TICKETS

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