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Dawkins targets MLS glory

Simon Dawkins is playing his part as our partner club San Jose Earthquakes aim for the big prize in the MLS.

The attacking midfielder currently on loan at the California club has worked his way back to full fitness just in time after a recent ankle injury as they compete in the MLS play-offs.

Simon, who scored eight goals in the regular season, came off the bench for the final 31 minutes as the Earthquakes secured a crucial 1-0 lead in Western Conference semi-final, first leg at LA Galaxy on Sunday.

Galaxy fielded their big three – David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Spurs legend Robbie Keane – but Earthquakes won it in the 94th minute thanks to a free-kick from Victor Bernandez.

The teams meet again in San Jose for the second leg on Wednesday night with the winners facing either Seattle or Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final. They drew 0-0 in their first leg and conclude their semi-final on Thursday.

The winners of the Western and Eastern Conference play-offs clash for the MLS Cup and the right to be called MLS champions on December 1. New York Red Bulls, DC United, Kansas City and Houston are in the Eastern play-offs.

Earthquakes ran away with the Western Conference title in the regular season and won the MLS’s prestigious ‘Supporters Shield’, awarded to the team with the best regular season record in both Conferences.

Now they want the MLS Cup. “We won the league and had the best record, so that was great, but now we want the main prize,” said Simon. “We won the Supporters Shield and we want to show everyone how much we deserved to win that.

“We did really well in the first leg. LA Galaxy is a huge game out here, a local derby and the pressure was high, but we came out with a 1-0 win.

“The play-offs is new for me and I loved it. I’ve just come back from a knock, I’ve been in and out for a month and hopefully I’ll get more minutes in the second leg on Wednesday.”