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Beckham leads Galaxy past Toronto FC 2-0

Sep 20, 2009 - 6:04 AM By JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO STATS MLS Correspondent

CARSON, Calif. (STATS) - In guiding the Los Angeles Galaxy to their latest victory, David Beckham might have won over some of his biggest critics.

Beckham scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Galaxy to a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night.

The Galaxy (10-5-11) remained two points behind Houston for the Western Conference lead and are third in the MLS with 41 points. The top two teams in each conference and the clubs that have the next four highest point totals qualify for the playoffs.

Toronto (9-10-7) is tied with New England for fourth in the East with 34 points, two behind D.C. United for the eighth and final playoff berth.

Members of the L.A. Riot Squad, the Galaxy's biggest fan group, applauded Beckham during a post-game television interview. The Riot Squad displayed large anti-Beckham banners when he played against AC Milan on July 19 after playing for the Italian squad on loan during the early part of the MLS season.

After the interview, Beckham turned to the Riot Squad and returned the applause. On July 19, Beckham challenged a member of the Riot Squad to meet him on the field, and returned jeers with mock kisses.

"He was fabulous in a number of attacking opportunities and he did the defending that he needed to do," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "The way he got out on the break in the second half was remarkable.

"David is a person with a lot of pride and he did everything he could tonight to lead this team. David gave 100 percent, no question about it."

Beckham attributed his success to playing in the central midfield, as opposed to his customary right wing.

"Playing in the center, I've got a lot more options where I can pass forward, to the right or the left," Beckham said. "If you have enough of the ball, you can create all kinds of problems."

Beckham scored in the ninth minute after a series of passes with Chris Birchall. Beckham received Birchall's second return pass on his left foot, dribbled and fired a 17-yard shot inside the left post.

The goal was Beckham's second in MLS play this year and third since returning from AC Milan. Beckham scored in the Galaxy's friendly against FC Barcelona on Aug. 1.

Beckham nearly scored again in the 43rd minute, but after running onto Eddie Lewis's left-wing cross, he banged a low 23-yard shot off the left post.

Toronto had two chances to force a 1-all tie. In the 31st minute, Ali Gerba took an 8-yard shot that ricocheted off goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts' foot. In the 48th minute, Chad Barrett intercepted Stefani Migiloranzi's pass and sent the ball to Gerba, whose 13-yard shot hit the crossbar.

"Maybe if that goes in, it's a different game," Toronto coach Chris Cummins said of Gerba's shot. "We had a good go after halftime. There were 10, 15 minutes where we really took the game to them."

Buddle, making his first start since July 16, secured the Galaxy's three points in the 83rd minute. Beckham intercepted Julian de Guzman's pass in Toronto's end and played a soft cross from the right flank into the penalty area to Landon Donovan, who found an unmarked Buddle seven yards from goal.

Ricketts needed to make only one save for his sixth shutout.

De Guzman, the first Canadian to play in Spain's La Liga and Toronto's first designated player signing, played the full 90 minutes in his debut. He received a yellow card in the 24th minute.

Galaxy defender Sean Franklin, the 2008 MLS rookie of the year, played his first game in nearly four months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hamstring muscle in May.