Donovan's goal clinches playoff spot for Galaxy

Associated Press
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, right, kicks the ball in for a goal as Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz looks on during the first half of their soccer match, Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, right, kicks the ball in for a goal as Colorado Rapids midfielder …

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The Galaxy made official Friday night what they have known for weeks.

Landon Donovan's goal gave Los Angeles a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids and made the Galaxy the first Major League Soccer team to clinch a playoff berth.

"I think that was a bit of a foregone conclusion," Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said.

Los Angeles moved seven points clear of Seattle in the race for the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team that finishes with the best regular-season record. Los Angeles captured the prize last season and is eyeing a repeat.

"It would be nice to win the Supporters' Shield," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "That's the next objective for us."

Donovan scored his league high-tying 12th goal in the 36th minute off a feed from Sean Franklin to help the Galaxy (15-3-10) remain unbeaten in 14 home matches.

After a handful of strong chances in the first half went for naught, the Galaxy managed to convert one before the break.

David Beckham started the goal-scoring sequence near the right sideline, playing a short pass to Chad Barrett, who knocked it to a streaking Franklin. Following a dribble, Franklin beat the Rapids' last line of defense with a pass to Donovan, who was left unguarded and finished with a low strike that goalie Matt Pickens was unable to reach.

Donovan matched New York's Thierry Henry for most goals in the league.

"Landon's finish was critical," Dunivant said. "Nobody is going to save that."

The defending champion Rapids (10-8-11) lost their second straight following a six-game unbeaten streak.

Colorado had won the previous two games in the series at the Home Depot Center.

"In a stadium where we have had good fortune in the past, tonight was not to be for us," Colorado coach Gary Smith said.

Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts started in net for the first time since fracturing his left ulna against San Jose on June 25. Ricketts, who missed eight league matches following surgery, wasn't called into action often.

The Rapids' best chance at an equalizer was negated by an offside call in the 57th minute. Ricketts made a diving deflection of Sanna Nyassi's shot, sending the ball loose in the box. Wells Thompson cleaned up the rebound but was a step behind the defense while putting the ball into the net.

Former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley was in attendance watching as a spectator. Bradley, who was fired from his post in July after a nearly five-year stint, has been in discussions with Egypt about its coaching vacancy.

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