David Beckham scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night.
The Galaxy (10-5-11) remained two points behind Houston for the Western Conference lead and are third in the MLS with 41 points. The top team in each conference and the clubs that have the next six highest point totals qualify for the playoffs.
Toronto (9-10-7) is tied with New England for fourth in the East with 34 points, two behind D.C. United for the eighth and final playoff berth.
Beckham scored in the ninth minute after a series of passes with Chris Birchall. Beckham received Birchall's second return pass on his left foot, dribbled and fired a 17-yard shot inside the left post.
The goal was Beckham's second in MLS play this year and third since returning from AC Milan in July. Beckham scored in the Galaxy's friendly against FC Barcelona on Aug. 1.
Beckham nearly scored again in the 43rd minute, but after running onto Eddie Lewis's left-wing cross, he banged a low 23-yard shot off the left post.
TFC shut out by Ricketts
Toronto had two chances to force a 1-all tie. In the 31st minute, Ali Gerba took an eight-yard shot that ricocheted off goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts' foot. In the 48th minute, Chad Barrett intercepted Stefani Migiloranzi's pass and sent the ball to Gerba, whose 13-yard shot hit the crossbar.
Edson Buddle, making his first start since July 16, secured the Galaxy's three points in the 83rd minute. Beckham intercepted Julian de Guzman's pass in Toronto's end and played a soft cross from the right flank into the penalty area to Landon Donovan, who found an unmarked Buddle seven yards from goal.
Ricketts finished with his sixth shutout.
De Guzman, the first Canadian to play in Spain's La Liga and Toronto's first designated-player signing, played the full 90 minutes in his debut. He received a yellow card in the 24th minute.
Galaxy defender Sean Franklin, the 2008 MLS rookie of the year, played his first game in nearly four months after surgery to repair a torn hamstring muscle in May.