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Galaxy Defeats Kansas City, 2-0, to Earn Home-Field Advantage

September 29, 1997|JULIE CART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just as the Galaxy's playoff picture seemed to clear--thanks to its 2-0 defeat of the Kansas City Wizards in front of 28,912 at the Rose Bowl on Sunday night--the team's personnel picture clouded over.

No sooner had the Galaxy gained home-field advantage for its three-game series against the Dallas Burn than the team had to absorb the sobering news that its staunchest defender, Robin Fraser, had re-injured his right foot and might not be available for Sunday's series opener at the Rose Bowl.

Already scheduled as absentees are goalkeeper Jorge Campos and midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, who will represent Mexico and El Salvador, respectively, in a World Cup '98 qualifying match at Mexico City.

Cobi Jones, who scored in the 89th minute, has U.S. national team duty Friday night against Jamaica at Washington, D.C. and, when he plays Sunday, will have both late-season fatigue and jet lag to deal with.

The Galaxy, which has won six in a row, finished the season with a 16-16 record and in second place in the Western Conference.

It was the first time in four games this season that the Galaxy defeated the Wizards (21-11), who rested many key players for their playoff run.

Both teams lost key defensive players in the first half, subtractions that affected each team differently. Sean Bowers lasted only 12 minutes for the Wizards before being felled with a strained abdominal muscle.

That loss, added to the usual starters the team has already opted to rest--including league-leading scorer Preki and defender Richard Gough--meant that five starting players were absent for Kansas City. The Wizards were never able to overcome that talent deficit.

The Galaxy lost Fraser--and possibly much more--when he left the game in the 26th minute. Fraser's injury was called a foot sprain. Team officials were unable to say if he would play Sunday.

His loss is significant to his team as it enters the playoffs: Fraser has been defending for the Galaxy in every shutout the team has had this season.

Ezra Hendrickson replaced Fraser in the back.

The Galaxy responded to the compromised defensive position by attacking--keeping the game in Kansas City's half of the field.

The first goal was scored in the 28th minute by Martin Machon. Cienfuegos sent a bending corner kick into the crowded goal area. The ball glanced off the head of the 6-foot-3 Hendrickson and Machon headed it on the fly and into the back of the net.

While Machon took advantage of his sole scoring chance, teammate Eduardo Hurtado was not so efficient, squandering at least three good scoring opportunities.

But Galaxy interim Coach Octavio Zambrano steadfastly defended Hurtado.

"Eduardo is a player who will have his great games," Zambrano said. "Tonight wasn't one of them. He's a force out there, he deserves to be out there. If he had scored one in the first half, we'd all be thinking differently about Eduardo."

MLS Notes

In three other regular-season finales, the Columbus Crew (15-17) scored a 2-1 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Mutiny (17-15) in front of 22,259 at Ohio Stadium; the New York-New Jersey MetroStars (13-19) defeated D.C. United (21-11), 3-1, in front of 9,686 at RFK Stadium in Washington; and the Colorado Rapids (14-18) defeated the San Jose Clash (12-20), 3-1, in front of 10,926 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MLS Playoffs

(All Series Best of Three)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

* Galaxy vs. Dallas

* Sunday: Rose Bowl, 4:30 p.m.

* Oct. 8: at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.

* Oct. 11: Rose Bowl, 7:30 p.m.

* Kansas City vs. Colorado

EASTERN CONFERENCE

* Washington D.C. vs. New England

* Tampa Bay vs. Columbus

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