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Galaxy needs new offensive sources

Times Staff Writer

That two-wheeled jalopy that has wheezed and coughed and clunked its way through more than a quarter of the Major League Soccer season is about to get a tune-up -- and not a moment too soon.

Through eight MLS games, during which the Galaxy has compiled a less-than-impressive 3-3-2 record, it has relied pretty much on David Beckham and Landon Donovan to provide the locomotion.

Donovan has scored a league-high eight goals and he and Beckham, who has three goals, are tied for the league lead in assists with five each.

But, after tonight’s game against the Kansas City Wizards in Carson, Beckham and Donovan will leave to join their national teams, possibly for an extended period.

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So the Galaxy is seeking other scoring options. Fortunately, Alan Gordon and Edson Buddle have shown some ability to put the ball in the net. Gordon has three goals and Buddle managed a hat trick in a 5-1 rout of FC Dallas last weekend.

But the main boost for the Galaxy will be the return of Carlos Ruiz. The Guatemalan striker has been sidelined for two months after being injured in the season opener. He could make his return tonight, albeit off the bench, and will add to the Galaxy’s offensive options.

But that still leaves a question: Can the Galaxy win without Beckham’s passing and Donovan’s finishing?

The two players have developed a solid understanding on the field, with each being able to read the other’s moves.

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“If he gets the ball and he’s under pressure, I know where I need to be so . . . that we have an opportunity to be dangerous,” Donovan said. “And vice versa.”

The problem for the Galaxy has been the inability of other players to read the game as well as Beckham and Donovan. Time and again, excellent crosses into the goal area by Beckham have gone begging because players have failed to anticipate the play.

Sometimes they do, but more often they don’t, and that -- along with a porous defense -- has led to the Galaxy’s losing as many games as it has won.

“Consistency is something that we all look for in soccer,” Beckham said. “I’m starting to see that in MLS there isn’t much consistency. Some teams will win five-nil one week and then lose five-nil the next week. . . .

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“Whatever team can get a consistent run of results stays top of the league.”

Donovan said he and Beckham have always clicked.

“We had it going last year,” Donovan said, “but it just wasn’t as sharp as it is now. Obviously, I’m reaping the benefits of him training every day. He’s healthier, he’s fitter, he’s more agile when he’s on the field and you’re seeing the difference. . . .

“Now we’re realizing that when he’s fit and healthy, he can run. People don’t realize that about him. They forget that because of his passing ability.”

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GALAXY TONIGHT

vs. Kansas City, 7:30, HDNet, FSNW

Site -- Home Depot Center.

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Radio -- 1150, 1330 (Spanish).

Records -- Galaxy 3-3-2; Wizards 3-3-2.

Update -- A victory tonight would lift the Galaxy above .500 for the first time this season and also put it in first place in the Western Conference.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com


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