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Churning Rapids Big Obstacle for Galaxy

August 05, 1998|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

According to Wolde Harris, Major League Soccer's all-star break could not have come at a worse time.

"No one wants to let this roll get away," the Colorado Rapids' Jamaican forward said last week after the team had defeated the New England Revolution, 3-1, at Foxboro, Mass.

It was the Rapids' eighth victory in their last 10 games and it put Colorado above .500 for the first time this season.

All of which is bad news for the Galaxy, which goes into tonight's game against the Rapids at Mile High Stadium in Denver on a less optimistic note.

While Colorado has salvaged its season by turning a 3-8 record into an 11-10 mark, Los Angeles has slumped from 16-3 to 16-6. Three consecutive losses are hardly cause for alarm but they do signal the team is not playing up to its potential.

On the same day the Rapids were beating the Revolution in their final match before last Sunday's All-Star game, the Galaxy was losing to the Burn in Dallas.

The 3-0 defeat also extended the Galaxy's scoreless streak to 194 minutes.

"We have to work harder," Galaxy Coach Octavio Zambrano said. "That's the only way you get out of situations like this.

"I don't think the team is in a panic, but I think [the players] are going through a funk right now and it's hard to pinpoint what [the cause] is."

Meanwhile, the Rapids, beaten by Washington D.C. United in last season's MLS championship game, are riding high.

"Right now we have something I couldn't give them--confidence," Coach Glenn Myernick said. "This team is playing very confident soccer right now, and that's made us very tough to beat over the last 10 games."

Galaxy defender Robin Fraser will miss tonight's game after being red-carded in the loss to Dallas.

His absence, plus that of Dan Calichman, who has been sidelined since May 6 when his leg was broken in a tackle by Colorado's Marcelo Balboa, leaves the Galaxy defense stretched thin.

Zambrano said the team may fill its open fifth foreigner roster spot with another defender. But that won't be in time for tonight's game or Saturday's increasingly important game against the second-place Fire in Chicago.

"We need more depth in that position," Zambrano said. "The problem is the [lack of] acquisition money. We can't go for a first-choice player. We have to go for a second or third choice."

Fraser believes the Galaxy, which has a nine-point lead over the Fire, needs some defensive help if it is to stop its mini-slide.

"I think we've given up some goals that we shouldn't have," he said. "As a team, we need to defend better. That's the first thing. After that, the goals will come.

"I really think that when you get into slumps like this, when you're not scoring and you're losing games, it's all about digging in. It's about hard work and not giving up scoring chances."

It also would help if the Galaxy rediscovered its scoring touch. It was averaging three goals a game until the current drought.

"I think it's just a matter of waiting it out," forward Cobi Jones said.

"Our set lineup has been switched around a bit [with the arrival of Carlos Hermosillo from Mexico]. As soon as the lineup settles down, I think things will sort themselves out."

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