CARSON, Calif. – Their playoff position is locked and there is little to play for, but the LA Galaxy aren’t overlooking Sunday’s MLS regular season finale against Seattle Sounders FC at The Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy (15-12-6, 51 points) do freely admit they have been thinking beyond the clash between the two Western Conference powers (6 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT) – namely to Thursday’s Knockout Round game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC -- but the game against the Sounders (15-7-11, 56 points) is important in at least one regard.
“I think it’s important the players keep the momentum going,” the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane said after training Friday.
The Galaxy, 5-1-3 since a 4-0 loss at Seattle on Aug. 5, are expected to welcome back David Beckham and Landon Donovan, both of whom have been out with injuries. Beckham has been nursing a sprained left ankle while Donovan has been rehabbing a bone bruise on his left knee, an injury that he suffered in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake just over three weeks ago.
Both players have trained this week and pronounced themselves fit for this weekend.
“I’m available,” Donovan said Friday. “I’m ready to play.”
"Are you available for Sunday's game?" Landon Donovan: "Yes, I'm available." instagr.am/p/RQV43OhRfm/— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 26, 2012
The Galaxy will face a Seattle side which hasn’t been on the road in a month and has had their number this season. The Sounders defeated the Galaxy 2-0 at CenturyLink Field on May 2 and routed them 4-0 at the same venue just over three months later.
Sunday’s game, however, isn’t as much about retribution for those losses as it is preparing for what lies ahead.
Keane said he feels the Galaxy are more than ready for that task.
“If you look at the last few months I certainly think we’ve been the best team,” he said. “But it means nothing if you don’t perform in the playoffs. We’re certainly ready and looking forward to them; we’re not taking anything for granted.
“We’re looking forward to Thursday’s game, and hopefully going on after that.”
Added Beckham, “It’s a big game on Sunday, but not as big as the one on Thursday.”
Sunday’s game features a team led by the likes of Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero, who have combined for 27 goals and 11 assists, and also Mauro Rosales, who has 3 goals and 13 assists on the season.
The Galaxy expect the Sounders to put in a concerted effort Sunday, knowing that Seattle can claim second place in the West with a result better or equal to that of Real Salt Lake against Vancouver on Saturday night. Donovan, however, also knows Seattle coach Sigi Schmid, like the Galaxy’s Bruce Arena, won’t take any unnecessary chances.
“I’m sure he’s going to be smart about it,” Donovan said. “If you had an inexperienced coach all gung ho about going for it, it might be a little bit different. You know he’ll be sure to be smart with his players.
“It won’t be anything crazy. It won’t look like Thursday, that’s for sure.”