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Galaxy-Crew Preview

Sep 25, 2009 - 7:26 PM By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA STATS Senior Writer

Los Angeles (10-5-11) at Columbus (11-4-10), 7:30 p.m. EDT

David Beckham is beginning to feel comfortable in his new role for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He may not find it as easy to settle down at Crew Stadium.

With Beckham finally producing, the Galaxy look to deal the Columbus Crew their first loss in 24 home games as two of league's top teams match up Saturday night.

Though Beckham has had trouble at times this year, Los Angeles (10-5-11) is two points behind Houston for the Western Conference lead and has the third-most points in MLS with 41.

Beckham now appears at ease, scoring two goals in his last three games, and he's beginning to gain the support of the fickle Galaxy fans. He scored a goal and added an assist to lead Los Angeles to a 2-0 win over Toronto FC last Saturday night, and was applauded by the Galaxy crowd during a post-game television interview.

Beckham, who has two goals and three assists in eight games, has had an icy relationship with Los Angeles fans. He was criticized when he played against AC Milan on July 19 after playing for the Italian club on loan during the early part of this season.

A change of roles has helped, according to Beckham. He's now playing in the central midfield, rather than his customary right wing spot.

"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 nearly had a second goal last Saturday, banging a 23-yard shot off the left post in the 43rd minute.

While Los Angeles has been one of the league's best teams on the road (5-1-7), the East-leading Crew have clearly been the best at home with an 8-0-4 record.

Columbus (11-4-10) has won four in a row at Crew Stadium and hasn't lost there in 23 straight matches, including two playoff wins last season.

The Crew settled for a 1-1 tie at Chicago on Sunday night in their last contest, getting two second-half goals from Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Schelotto, the reigning MLS MVP, is second in MLS with 12 goals. One of those goals came in a 1-1 tie with the Galaxy on May 17, the teams' only meeting of the season.

Schelotto has been getting some help offensively from Robbie Rogers, who assisted on Columbus' second goal Sunday. He has four assists in his last six games and also scored his only goal of the year during that span.

"I just try to put more balls into the box," Rogers said.

Schelotto and Rogers will face a Los Angeles team that got defender Sean Franklin back in its last game. Franklin, the 2008 MLS rookie of the year, played 90 minutes in his first game after missing nearly four months with a torn hamstring.

"Sean worked his tail off these past four months. He got himself into the physical condition," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.








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