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Galaxy-Rapids Preview

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN

STATS Senior Writer

(AP) -- David Beckham appears set to return from a sprained left ankle, although the Los Angeles Galaxy won both games in his absence.

The playoff-bound Galaxy look for a fifth straight victory Sunday night when they visit the lowly Colorado Rapids.

Beckham is listed as questionable, but the English superstar has been training in preparation for this game. It looks likely that he will see his first action since Sept. 1.

"We have to wait and see," Beckham said. "Obviously, you have to build it up again and judge how I feel during the game and what Bruce (Arena) thinks and obviously the physios think. Hopefully I can play 90, but it's the altitude and it is my first game back after three and a half weeks. I hope that I can do it."

Los Angeles (15-11-4) has posted four straight two-goal victories in league play and the last two were without Beckham, including 4-2 over Toronto FC last Saturday to stretch its MLS unbeaten streak to 5-0-1. The Galaxy have moved into contention for second place in the Western Conference.

"This is an important game, we're treating it as such," midfielder Landon Donovan said. "It's a game where we need to get three points if we want to keep pace in the West."

This four-game win streak has come at home for Los Angeles, which is 4-1-2 in its past seven league matches on the road.

"I just think we're playing better as a team," Arena said. "When you win games, you get confidence and that can snowball at times and it has for us."

Although Colorado (9-18-3) is close to being eliminated from playoff contention with one of the league's worst records, the Rapids are 2-0-1 in their last three home games.

"It's always a difficult place to play," said Beckham, who has a career-high seven MLS goals this year. "They're always a team that play well at home, they're up for it all the time."

The Galaxy have taken the last four meetings, including both this year. They won 2-1 on the road April 21 and 2-0 at home Sept. 14 in the first game Beckham missed with his current injury.

Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson scored in the last matchup in his MLS debut for Los Angeles. Wilhelmsson, however, is questionable with a left calf strain that has kept him out of practice this week.

The Rapids will play three of their final four games at home after Jamie Smith's tying goal in the 86th minute last Sunday salvaged a 2-2 draw at Vancouver.

"We've got to win," midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. "We have games at home. Hopefully something can happen. Our next game is a difficult one, but it's at home so we have to win."

Conor Casey made his first start since Aug. 31 in another injury-plagued campaign for the veteran forward. He's got eight goals over the last two seasons after totaling 40 over his previous three.

Casey has yet to start against Los Angeles this year. He has six goals in seven career starts against the Galaxy.

Updated September 29, 2012

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