Galaxy Clinch West with 2-0 Win Over Earthquakes
CARSON, Calif. (STATS) - The first stage of the Los Angeles Galaxy's renaissance is complete. Now on bigger things - like a third championship.
The Galaxy clinched their first division title in seven years with a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
The victory provides Los Angeles (12-6-12) home-field advantage for the postseason as it returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
"A huge reward," said Landon Donovan, who led the Galaxy to the 2005 MLS title after winning two championships with San Jose. "We've worked really hard, and we didn't want that to slip away tonight. And I can't imagine anybody wants to play us right now."
Los Angeles has a three-point lead on CD Chivas USA and Houston, which face off Sunday. The Galaxy own the first tiebreaker against both teams.
The loser of Sunday's game, or Chivas if it is a draw, will meet the Galaxy in next week's opening round of the playoffs. The Galaxy will be home on Nov. 8 in the second leg of the home-and-home series.
Los Angeles also won it all in 2002, but posted losing records while missing the playoffs each of the last three years under Ruud Gullit. The rebuilding process started when former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena was hired in August 2008 and has resulted with the team's sixth division title.
"(A regular-season title) certainly wasn't something we were thinking about as we started to rebuild the team in the offseason," Arena said. "But it's a fabulous accomplishment. It's been gratifying, the progress we've made.
"Hopefully, this is the start of things, being better and having a team that's consistently good, and only time will tell for that."
Franchise icon David Beckham, who endured difficult seasons with the Galaxy over the last two years, said the effort needs to continue.
"This season is a season to be proud of so far, but we can't afford to get off the pace," he said. "We need to continue, and we want trophies."
Donovan was responsible for the first goal, taking a pass from Mike Magee in the Earthquakes' box. His cross ricocheted off defender Bobby Burling and arced over backpedaling goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
Donovan fired between Cannon's legs at the top of the San Jose box on the second goal to finish a sequence started when Ricketts threw the ball to Beckham.
Beckham played the ball to midfield, and Donovan knocked it to Chris Klein on the right wing and raced forward. Donovan met Klein's pass just inside the box, firing under the onrushing Cannon and off the left post into the net.
Donovan leads Los Angeles with 12 goals.
The Galaxy, behind strong performances by goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and MLS Rookie of the Year favorite Omar Gonzalez, notched their third straight shutout, seventh in nine games and team-record 12th of the season.
San Jose (7-14-9), meanwhile, finished at the bottom of the West.
"This was definitely a tough result, a tough way to end the season," Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. "We have played well over the last 12 or so games, including this one and this is something we can build off of into next season and I'm excited about that."
Received 10/25/09 02:39 am ET