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Donovan: LA must finish off NY like we did Seattle in '10

CARSON, Calif. – History lessons from 2010 have been a theme around LA Galaxy camp ahead of Thursday’s second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against the New York Red Bulls (11 pm ET, ESPN2/TSN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

Supporters’ Shield winners for a second straight year, LA will not be satisfied until they’re hoisting the MLS Cup come Nov. 20. But for as much as their shocking loss to FC Dallas in last year’s Western Conference Championship was a lesson in overconfidence, their current situation – up 1-0 on aggregate in the Western semis and heading home for the second leg – is a familiar one they'd love to lean on.

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And that experience will govern how they approach Thursday, according to Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.

“We were in the exact same position last year where we beat Seattle away and came home,” he said at training on Wednesday. “A lot of teams in that situation might have a tendency to sit back and guard the goal, but we wanted to come out and be aggressive and we got on them early and ended the game quickly.”

Last Halloween, the Galaxy left Seattle with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at then Qwest Field. In the return leg at the Home Depot Center seven days later, they pressed the Sounders from the opening kick, resulting in a 19th-minute goal from Edson Buddle and another from Omar Gonzalez off a Beckham free kick eight minutes later. From that point on, the series was over, eventually finishing 3-1 on aggregate.

“In an ideal world, we could do that again tomorrow,” Donovan added. “But it’s a different year, a different opponent and it’s going to be tough.”

But that’s the game plan heading into Thursday’s match: Go at them early and finish them off, and be mindful of giving opportunities to New York’s cavalcade of offensive weapons. No team earned more points against the Galaxy (four) in the regular season than the Red Bulls, and Donovan & Co. are wary of the danger they present.

And that’s another history lesson they’ve learned.

“There are a couple of teams in this league who have confidence going away from home that they can get results,” Donovan said. “Dallas when they’re on their game, Seattle, Salt Lake – all these teams can go away from home and really get a result, and New York is one of those teams. We have to be really aware of that and we are.”