CARSON, Calif. (AP) — David Beckham thinks the Los Angeles Galaxy put themselves in a solid position to defend their MLS title with a win in their regular-season finale.
Hurting the Seattle Sounders' playoff plans was just a small bonus.
Mike Magee scored on a pass from Robbie Keane in the 83rd minute, and the Galaxy kept the Sounders in third place in the Western Conference with a 1-0 victory Sunday night.
Josh Saunders earned his ninth shutout for the champs, who head into the postseason as the West's fourth seed after four largely outstanding months of play. A poor start to the season left the star-studded Galaxy playing catch-up in the West, but they might be gaining fast.
"We've put ourselves in a good position," said Beckham, who played 62 minutes in his first match in three weeks. "It was important to get a good result tonight, get a few minutes, and now the big one is Thursday."
The Galaxy already knew they'll host the fifth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday night in a one-game knockout playoff. Los Angeles still played to win, putting Beckham and Landon Donovan in the starting lineup after lengthy injury absences.
"We wanted to get some rhythm and some continuity heading into the playoffs," said Donovan, who played the entire game.
The loss was a missed opportunity for Seattle, which remained stuck in third in the West with 56 points, allowing Real Salt Lake to finish second with 57.
A win or tie would have put the Sounders into the second playoff slot, but now Salt Lake will host the second game of their two-game conference semifinal, the more advantageous position in the home-and-home series. The third-place finish also might have CONCACAF Champions League ramifications for the Sounders down the road.
"I think we're ready for the playoffs," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "Tonight is going to be a good motivator. When you get slapped at the end of the season, it reminds you how it feels, and how you don't want that feeling again."
The loss became doubly painful for the Sounders after forward Eddie Johnson left late in the first half with an apparent hamstring injury. Johnson, who leads Seattle with 14 goals, will have an MRI on Monday.