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Without Campos, Galaxy Can't Save Itself From Loss

Soccer: Missing its goalkeeper and its playmaker, Cienfuegos, Los Angeles falls, 3-2, to Kansas City Wiz in a shootout.


Los Angeles Galaxy fans will be pleased to learn this morning that goalkeeper Jorge Campos earned a shutout Sunday afternoon while leading his team to a 3-0 victory.

The problem is, Campos was playing in Mexico City for Atlante against Veracruz, not for the Galaxy against the Wiz in the rain at Kansas City.

There, the story was somewhat less pleasing as the Wiz handed the Galaxy its seventh loss in the last 10 games, winning, 3-2, in a shootout in front of 13,362 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Under Major League Soccer's convoluted contract agreements, Campos was allowed to play for Atlante in the Mexican League season opener in exchange for Atlante allowing him to play for the Galaxy in next season's MLS opener.

From now on, with 10 regular-season games remaining and the playoffs within striking distance, the Galaxy could be minus Campos quite often.

Coach Lothar Osiander, who cringed on the sideline through yet another horrendous display of Galaxy ineptitude, is trying to put the best face possible on the situation.

Last Thursday, his senses perhaps dulled by one of his team's increasingly rare victories, Osiander voiced one of the more astonishing statements made this season.

"It's not that [Jorge] Campos is that much better a goalkeeper than [David] Kramer," Osiander said, "but he's got a certain presence that is incredible and influences the whole defensive line and the midfield and the forwards. That's his strength."

Kramer almost equal to Campos? Not a chance.

If he were, he might not have fouled Kansas City midfielder Preki inside the penalty area in the 13th minute Sunday, then failed to save Preki's well-placed penalty kick that gave the Wiz a 1-0 lead.

If he were, he might have been in position to reach Mark Chung's flying header in the 63rd minute that flashed inside the right post to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead.

If he were, he might not have allowed Chung, Mo Johnston and Paul Wright to score in the shootout while saving only Preki's attempt.

No, Kramer is not Campos. Not by a long shot.

But it would be unfair to blame the former Fresno State player for this loss. It was a shared responsibility.

The Galaxy's shootout effort, for example, was abysmal. Harut Karapetyan somehow steered his shot wide right. Greg Vanney scored, but Jorge Salcedo and Guillermo Jara both saw their shots saved by Wiz goalkeeper Garth Lagerwey.

As a result, the Galaxy fell to 15-7, with the Wiz improving to 14-12. More important, Los Angeles' once-huge lead in the Western Conference has all but disappeared. It now has 39 points, the Dallas Burn (15-9) has 37 and Kansas City has 36.

Osiander is not pleased by Campos' freedom to roam between leagues, but there is not much he can do about it.

"I have to live with it," he said. "I can fight it, but it's like running into a cement wall. So I do it only once or twice and then I say, 'Well, I better not do it anymore.' "

Campos was not the only player missing for the Galaxy Sunday. Also contributing to the defeat was the absence of midfield playmaker Mauricio Cienfuegos, serving a one-game suspension.

"We really missed Cienfuegos," Osiander said. "He leads our game. . . . It wasn't a particularly good day. . . . We play good, then flat, then good, then flat. . . . Thank God it's only one point."

Without Cienfuegos to orchestrate the attack and without Campos to inspire the defense, the Galaxy was doomed, especially after Cobi Jones hobbled off in the 78th minute after being hurt by a vicious tackle from Wiz defender Uche Okafor, whose studs crashed into Jones' left ankle and left him writhing on the sideline.

Mark Semioli managed to tie the score at 1-1 in the 54th minute with a fine individual effort, turning, trapping the ball with his right thigh, then firing it into the net with his left foot from close range.

Kansas City responded with Chung's goal off a cross from substitute Wright, who had been sent into the game only seconds earlier by Wiz Coach Ron Newman.

In the closing stages, the Wiz appeared content to hold on for what would have been a 2-1 victory, but the Galaxy scrambled for the tying goal and got it when Jara fired home a diagonal shot from about 15 yards in the 87th minute.

"Both teams were really firing today, I'm surprised there weren't more goals in the game, especially from us," Preki said. "We had a lot of chances to put them away at the end, but they knew if they kept the lead down to just one goal they would have a chance to force at least a shootout."

Preki's goal was his 16th of the season.

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