A victory wasn’t the only thing the Galaxy took away from Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. In fact, with its playoff opener just four days away, the result wasn’t even the most important thing.
What the Galaxy really needed was to prove its fitness and restore its confidence — and it did both, getting solid performances from a hobbled Landon Donovan and a gimpy David Beckham while winning for the first time in more than a month.
“Psychologically, it could play a big part,” said striker Robbie Keane, who set up second-half substitute Mike Magee for the game’s only goal in the 83rd minute. “Winning is a habit. So it’s important that we keep the momentum going and keep the confidence going.”
Not to mention keeping Donovan and Beckham going. Neither had played in three weeks, Donovan because of a knee injury and Beckham because of a sprained ankle. But both started Sunday and played longer than Coach Bruce Arena had planned, with Beckham going 62 minutes and Donovan playing a full game for just the third time since Aug. 6.
“Let’s not talk about it anymore,” Donovan said of his knee while limping gingerly nearly an hour after the game. “I’ll be fine.”
Beckham, who has missed half the Galaxy’s last 10 matches, also came away confident he will be OK for Thursday’s play-in game with Vancouver. But that still leaves the Galaxy down one starter, because center back A.J. DeLaGarza, who hasn’t trained with the team since straining a ligament in his left knee last month, could miss the postseason.
So the Galaxy will have to be content building off the good things it did Sunday in snapping a three-game winless streak, its longest skid since May.
“Momentum-wise, it’s huge,” Magee said of the win.
And it was Keane and Magee who gave them that momentum, with Keane ending a frustrating night – he took eight shots, hitting the crossbar and the side of the goal, but never the back of the net — by slipping a deft pass to Magee on the edge of the 18-yard box. Magee took it from there, burying a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
Referee Kevin Stott then saved the Galaxy in stoppage time when he waved off an apparent score by Brad Evans, ruling correctly that Seattle’s Fredy Montero had touched the ball with his arm during a scramble in front of the net.
Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders — who made spectacular saves on Montero and Mauro Rosales early in the second half — got his ninth shutout of the season.
“Josh was ridiculous tonight,” Magee said. “If it weren’t for him, we’re not winning tonight’s game.”
And it’s a result that could prove doubly painful for Seattle, who would have secured the homefield advantage for its playoff series with Real Salt Lake with a draw. The Sounders may also have injury problems of their own after Eddie Johnson, the team’s leading scorer with 14 goals, went off in the closing second of the first half with an apparent hamstring injury. He’ll undergo an MRI exam on Monday in Seattle.