GALAXY STARS IMPROVE

David Beckham and Landon Donovan are likely to be in the Los Angeles Galaxy lineup against Mexican champion Pachuca in tonight's SuperLiga final.

"We'll see how they get through today, but I expect both to play," Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said after Tuesday's practice. "David's still got that ankle problem, but Landon feels a lot better. His calf and his thigh are OK now, so that's good."

Beckham has been bothered by a sprained left ankle since June and was limping after playing full matches on consecutive nights for England in London and the Galaxy in Carson last week. Donovan strained his right calf in a game against the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 18.

Beckham said his ankle is not completely well but that it's a lot better than what it was four or five days earlier.

"I trained today and I'm still uncomfortable but, hopefully, I'll be ready to play tomorrow," he said. "It's definitely feeling stronger, but it's taking time. I've had quite a few matches in a short space of time. It's not really given the necessary time to recover. If I had six weeks rest, then it would clear up completely, but that's not possible."

Beckham scrimmaged with the team but rested toward the end of training while his teammates practiced attacks on goal.

"His basic conditioning is a problem, too," Yallop said. "He's not really trained or done much with the team other than play the games. We're hoping he can play tomorrow and, hopefully, he'll be OK for the weekend, too."

The Galaxy face Real Salt Lake in a Major League Soccer game on Saturday night.

PUERTA DIES AT 22

Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died Tuesday, three days after collapsing on the field during his team's Spanish league match against Getafe.

The 22-year-old Puerta had been in an intensive care unit since Saturday and had been given assisted ventilation but his condition worsened Tuesday, the Virgen del Rocio hospital said.

Puerta lost consciousness and fell near his own goal Saturday in the 31st minute, but was able to walk off minutes later after being treated by team doctors.

He collapsed again in the locker room before being taken to the hospital, where he had been since.

BRAZIL REASSURES FIFA

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assured FIFA officials on Monday that he will do everything he can to guarantee the nation is chosen to host the 2014 World Cup.

Silva made the comments in a meeting with a five-member FIFA delegation evaluating the cities hoping to host matches if Brazil stages the tournament seven years from now, said Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Confederation of Football.

"The president once again guaranteed his total support to assure the World Cup takes place in Brazil," Teixeira said. "He made it clear that he will do everything in his power to help Brazil earn the right to stage the World Cup."

Brazil is the sole candidate to stage the 2014 World Cup, but soccer's governing body has warned that it can stage the competition elsewhere if Brazil fails to meet the requirements for the quadrennial event.

'10 QUALIFYING BEGINS

Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup began with a pair of routs in soccer's Oceania region.

Fiji beat Tuvalu 16-0, and Solomon Islands defeated American Samoa 12-1 on Saturday. In other regional games, Vanuatu downed Samoa 4-0, and New Caledonia edged Tahiti 1-0.

A record 204 teams entered qualifying, which runs through late 2009 and will produce 31 nations to join host South Africa in the tournament, to be played from June 11 to July 11, 2010.