Whitecaps FC-Galaxy Preview

The Los Angeles Galaxy’s attempt to defend their MLS Cup title

looks brighter with Landon Donovan and David Beckham healthy

again.

Those prospects seem even better against the spiraling Vancouver

Whitecaps.

Donovan and Beckham look to help the Galaxy continue their

dominance of the Whitecaps in Thursday’s Western Conference

wild-card game in Southern California.

Los Angeles (16-12-6) was clearly the best team in the league

last year, winning the Supporters’ Shield before claiming its first

MLS Cup title since 2005 after outscoring opponents 7-2 in four

playoff games.

One of Donovan’s three playoff goals came in the 1-0 win over

Houston in the final, while Beckham had three assists in the

postseason.

Now, they’re healthy and looking to make another run in the West

after playing in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Seattle, concluding the

regular season.

Donovan played the entire match in his return from a knee

injury, while Beckham went 62 minutes after sitting out two overall

games with a hurt ankle.

“I think the thought process behind (coach Bruce Arena) putting

out a real lineup as opposed to resting a bunch of guys was we

wanted to get some rhythm and some continuity heading into the

playoffs,” Donovan told the team’s official website.

The Galaxy haven’t had many of those issues against the

Whitecaps (11-13-10), going 4-0-1 with a 14-2 scoring edge. They’ve

outscored them 8-0 while winning all three home meetings, including

a 2-0 victory behind goals from Beckham and Juninho on Sept. 1.

Beckham has two goals and three assists in four games against

the Whitecaps, while Donovan has three of each.

Forward Robbie Keane has also taken part in Los Angeles’ success

versus the conference rival, collecting two goals and two assists

in four games. He enters the playoffs with seven goals and three

assists in the last 10 league games.

The Galaxy have won six of the last seven MLS matches at home,

and the Whitecaps are 0-7-2 on the road since beating Colorado on

July 4.

Still, Beckham isn’t overlooking Vancouver.

“There’s going to be many obstacles, especially it being a

playoff game and a one-off game, it’s going to be difficult,” he

said.

The Whitecaps are 1-6-3 in their last 10 games, getting shut out

in seven of them including each of the last two. In Saturday’s

scoreless draw at Real Salt Lake, coach Martin Rennie benched

designated players Kenny Miller and Barry Robson.

“We showed a starting lineup that worked well and then we had

players that were able to come on and change the game,” Rennie told

the team’s official website. “At the end I think we looked more

dangerous, and I think Barry and Kenny played an important part in

that.

“So, we’ve got a couple of decisions to make going into the game

in LA.”

Miller and Robson have combined for five goals and three assists

on the season.

The winner of this game will host West champion San Jose on

Sunday in the opener of the two-legged conference semifinals.