Galaxy tops Seattle to reach west final

David Beckham set up goals by Edson Buddle with a corner kick and Omar Gonzalez with a free kick in an 8-minute span of the first half to lead the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference semifinal Sunday night.

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made three saves for the Galaxy, who will play host to FC Dallas after winning the two-game series against Seattle 3-1.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena called Beckham’s set pieces "terrific," he said, especially after the midfielder played the first game on a wet artificial surface in Seattle.

"That was the difference in the game," Arena said of Beckham’s set pieces. "He had a tough week recovering from the field in Seattle but he started coming around Friday."

Steve Zakuani scored for Seattle Sounders FC to break a playoff goalless streak of 386 minutes over two years.

"We still have to grow up a little bit," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "For a couple of guys on our team, the game was too big for them. It was too big an occasion for them. They just turned over the ball in bad positions, bad spots.

"We can’t give up goals on set pieces like that and we can’t start to play 20 minutes into the game."

Buddle scored his second goal of the playoffs in the 19th minute. He escaped defender Tyrone Marshall’s grasp to head Beckham’s corner kick inside the left post from eight yards.

Gonzalez made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. After Beckham took a 32-yard free kick, Gonzalez dived to head the ball inside the left post from seven yards.

"It’s important for me to have players to put the ball on the top of their heads or at their feet," Beckham said. "I know that if I’ve got the ball in the right area, we have brave-enough players and good-enough players to score."

Beckham added that he is not completely in shape after missing six months due to a torn Achilles tendon. He suffered the injury in March while playing on loan with AC Milan.

"Obviously, it’s kind of my pre-season," Beckham said. "I’m still trying to get fit. I’m still getting the aches and the pains of pre-season. If I look after my body (the way I have) since I’ve been back, hopefully, I’ll continue to progress."

Zakuani ended the scoring with a 7-yard shot in the 86th minute.

Ricketts kept Sounders FC from scoring in the 32nd minute by deflecting Osvaldo Alonzo’s 29-yard line drive with both palms past Seattle’s Zakuani and Blaise Nkufo.

Then in the 67th minute, a sliding Ricketts used his chest to block Zakuani’s point-blank shot at the edge of the 6-yard goalkeeper’s crease.