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Galaxy's defense puts them in finals

DENVER — Landon Donovan scored two goals and the Los Angeles Galaxy used strong defense to advance to the MLS finals with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

The victory came in the one-game Western Conference finals. Los Angeles will be in the championship for the fifth time in its history and first time since 2002. New England will play Chicago in the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday for the chance to play the Galaxy.

"Landon will tell he isn't a one-man operation," Los Angeles coach Steve Sampson said. "He'll tell you he had a lot of help from his teammates.

Donovan agreed.

"We had a good team game plan," Donovan said. "I wanted to put on a show, though, and I did."

Los Angeles goalkeeper Kevin Hartman had three saves. Play was stopped in the 59th minute when he was struck in the face by a shot by Eric Denton. Hartman lay on the ground for several minutes before finishing the game.

"I was OK," Hartman said. "It was just a hard shot."

The Galaxy took a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute of the first half on Donovan's third goal of the playoffs. Donovan took a centering pass from the end line and Donovan sent a diving shot into the goal past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

Hartman only had to save two shots in the first 45 minutes. The Galaxy interior defense kept the ball outside of the scoring zone for much of the second half.

"They shut us down," Colorado coach Fernando Clavijo said. "And they shut us out."

Hartman made a diving save to deny Jean Philippe Peguero from the slot in the 48th minute.

Over the final 40 minutes, Los Angeles seemed to sit back in a defensive posture, dump the ball back into the midfield and allow harmless shots by Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Cunningham. Those shots sailed well above the crossbar.

Donvovan's second goal came in the 88th minute when the Galaxy were trying to run out the clock. He faked Colorado goalkeeper Joe Cannon to the ground and punched a shot past him.