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Galaxy's Winner Is a Beauty

April 21, 1996|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Two weeks old and already in first place.

That's where the Galaxy finds itself today after a dramatic 2-1 Major League Soccer victory over Washington D.C. United on Saturday in front of 35,032 at RFK Stadium.

It was former UCLA All-American Jorge Salcedo who scored the game-winner, deep into the second half, after a superb piece of play by teammates Robin Fraser and Jose Vasquez.

Fraser, the best defender on either team Saturday, collected the ball well into his own half of the field, saw space open up ahead of him and sprinted downfield. Drawing the Washington defense toward him, he passed the ball to Vasquez on the left wing.

Vasquez surprised the D.C. United defenders by not taking the ball down into the corner but rather angling a pass back for the onrushing Salcedo to power into the net with a blistering shot from about 15 yards.

The goal, in the 71st minute, gave Los Angeles the lead for the first time. Washington made a desperate bid to tie, but the Galaxy's visibly exhausted defense hung on until the final whistle.

"I just went until somebody confronted me," Fraser said of his 40-yard run. "I thought about going [for the goal] myself, then I saw Jose. He made a great decision [to angle the ball back to Salcedo].

"It worked out well. I was fortunate to get behind [the defense] and I created a little bit of havoc. From there, Jose and [Mauricio] Cienfuegos made great runs and Jorge made a great finishing run."

Salcedo, a U.S. national team player who came on as a substitute only 10 minutes before scoring, added to the offensive spark Vasquez had brought when he came on shortly after halftime. The two added immensely to Los Angeles' cohesion and firepower.

"It's funny," Salcedo said, "because right before the game Jose Vasquez had said, 'If we get in the game we're going to make an impact. Either you're going to score or I'm going to score.' "

It turned out to be Salcedo, whose finish was clinical.

"Everyone was going toward the near post, including the goalkeeper," he said, "so I hit the ball with the outside of my foot so that it would go to the far post, and that's where it went."

It was a game where the posts (and the crossbar) played a big part in the outcome. Vasquez hit the crossbar with a fierce shot shortly after coming in. At the other end, Washington striker Raul Diaz Arce hit the right post with a shot that Los Angeles goalkeeper Jorge Campos was far too casual about covering.

Galaxy Coach Lothar Osiander started the same lineup that had beaten the New York/New Jersey MetroStars by the same score at the Rose Bowl a week earlier. Campos was in the nets, with Dan Calichman, Fraser and Manny Motajo on defense. Mark Semioli, Arash Noamouz, Chris Armas and Cienfuegos were in the midfield, while Cobi Jones, Eduardo Hurtado and Harat Karapetyan made up the forward line.

The Galaxy looked no more comfortable in the early going than it had at home. As soon as D.C. United realized Los Angeles would struggle when pressured, it turned up the offense.

Washington's first goal of the game--and its first ever, in fact, after a 1-0 loss at San Jose and a 4-0 drubbing at Columbus--came in the seventh minute. It originated deep in the Galaxy half of the field when Richie Williams cleared the ball upfield to fellow midfielder Shawn Medved, who in turn sent it on to El Salvadoran striker Arce, breaking toward the Galaxy net.

Campos, who was playing well off his line, realized the danger too late. He scrambled to return to the nets, but Arce, about 20 yards out, looked up, saw the unguarded net and hit a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area that Campos threw himself at but could not reach.

Ball and goalkeeper ended up in a heap in the back of the net and Washington led for the first time in its history. It didn't last long.

Jones almost tied it within four minutes when his shot from inside the area was fumbled by D.C. United goalkeeper Jeff Causey, but the ball trickled just wide of the left post.

The U.S. national team winger's speed was a problem for Washington, and before long Jones was upended in the penalty area by Williams. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot.

Cienfuegos stepped up to take the kick and calmly stroked the ball past Causey as the goalkeeper dived to his right. That made it 1-1 in the 22nd minute, and the score remained tied until the late heroics of Fraser, Vasquez and Salcedo.

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