David Beckham watched his Galaxy teammates give up a late equalizer Wednesday at Philadelphia from the comfort of his home, left behind to rest as L.A. delves more deeply into a congested schedule that will surely test its depth.
Doesn't mean he liked it, and he sure wasn't happy with the finish, but the English midfielder is enthused by the Galaxy's form and is looking to return to the lineup Saturday night with a win over Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center.
A victory would end a three-game winless streak that has been prolonged by the Galaxy's difficulty in finishing its chances, a recurring theme through the first two months of the Major League Soccer season.
“We have to finish teams off,” Beckham said Friday. “We're not winning as many games as we'd like to. The biggest thing is finishing teams off. We're playing well, but we need to get that second or third goal.”
L.A. has scored more than once just twice, in successive wins April 17 at Chicago (2-1) and April 23 at home against Portland (3-0). They've had four 1-1 draw, all results that would have been different had the Galaxy been more clinical in front of the net.
Beckham noted last week's draw with New York.
“In the first half, we found a way of getting through them,” he said, “and once we found that, we had three or four or five really good chances, and we didn't put them away, and, obviously, it costs you at the end of the day.
“So we have to find a way of beating teams and keeping pressure up for the full 90 minutes. Because the game is about 90 minutes, and more sometimes, and you have to play through that.”
With Beckham sitting out, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena changed up his system, turning his usually fairly flat 4-4-2 alignment into a 4-3-1-2, with Landon Donovan sitting underneath forwards Juan Pablo Angel and Miguel Lopez. They were dominant most of the night, but a poor back pass from Sean Franklin gifted Philly catalyst Danny Mwanga an 83rd-minute goal, and the returned home with one point rather than three,
“It's always difficult watching games you want to be in involved in,” Beckham said. “I think the guys did well. I think it shows the strength of our squad, because we had [different] players going in and a new formation, as well, and I think that was the positive side of it.”
He says he's ready for Sporting, that he feels “a lot better than [I] would have been if I would have been traveling,” but that he still would prefer to have been on the field.
“I always want to be playing in games. I'll always fight to play in games,” he said. “But sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say maybe I do need a rest. Manager always decides that, and it's always his final decision.
“It was the same [at Manchester United] when Sir Alex Ferguson used to pull us into his office and say, 'You're not playing today,' and you used to argue with him, but you never got anywhere.”
MISSING: Center backs Leonardo and Sean Alvarado are out for the year with torn knee ligaments. Forward Adam Cristman, questionable as he returns from a knee injury, is the only other player on the league injury report.
WORTH NOTING: Donovan has scored the last five L.A. goals. … The Galaxy hasn't beaten Kansas City since 2008, and they didn't score last year going 0-1-1 against the Wizards, who have have won their past three games at HDC, including a 3-2 decision over Chivas USA in a March 19 opener. … L.A. (4-2-5), which will be more than a third through its regular-season schedule at game's end, is atop the Western Conference with 17 points, two ahead of Real Salt Lake (5-1-0) and three in front of Colorado (4-3-2). RSL is home against Houston; the Rapids play at D.C. United.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Peter Vermes was a forward for the U.S. at the 1990 World Cup, and he nearly made the 1998 team as a defender. He played in Hungary, Holland, Spain and with four MLS clubs, finishing his career in 2002 with the Kansas City Wizards.
Three key players
Teal Bunbury, another product of the University of Akron's soccer factory, is a rising U.S. national team star after choosing the country he grew up in over his native Canada. His dad, former Canadian national-teamer Alex Bunbury, finished his career 11 years ago in K.C.
Midfield leader Davy Arnaud combines tremendous energy with good ideas and a shot that can make things happen, but he's prone to wear out before the finish
Winger Kei Kamara, K.C.'s top scorer with three goals and two assists , combines tremendous strength, speed, athleticism and skill to add an at-times devastating dimension to Sporting's attack
Sporting is nearing the finish of a nine-game stretch to start the season -- their (all reports say) fantastic new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, on the Kansas side, opens June 9 -- and it can't come soon enough. The ex-Wizards have just four points from six games, are winless in their last five and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with a team that ought to battle for a playoff berth. There's a lot of fine attacking talent -- Ryan Smith's return from injury helps, and so will Omar Bravo's -- but defense hasn't been a strength.
Kamara (Lawndale/Leuzinger HS) played at Cal State Dominguez Hills, on fields just a few hundred yards from the Home Depot Center field. Outside back Chance Myers (Thousand Oaks/Thousand Oaks HS and UCLA) also is a local boy. Midfielder Luke Sassano's rights belonged to the Galaxy for a few hours in December, when he was taken in the re-entry draft and promptly traded for Frankie Hejduk's rights.
Bravo is not quite ready to return from a sports-hernia injury, and midfielder Birahim Diop is out with a hamstring strain. Rookie forward Konrad Warzycha -- son of Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha -- is out for the year with a preseason knee injury. Sassano (sprained ankle) and midfielder Stephane Auvray (broken nose) are listed as probable.
At Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK/1150) and ESPN Deportes (KWKW/1330, Spanish)
Referee: Baldomero Toledo