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Cienfuegos and Hartman Speed Up Sluggish Galaxy

Soccer: Midfielder scores twice in second half and keeper makes several great saves in 2-1 victory over Rapids.

June 19, 1998|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Standing back in goal, watching his Galaxy teammates stumble and bumble upfield, keeper Kevin Hartman must have felt he was watching a movie in slow motion.

"I didn't know they were moving at all," Hartman said. "I mean, it was a very slow game."

And it was up to Hartman to make the big saves, keeping his sluggish team in the game long enough for midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos to score two second-half goals for a 2-1 win Thursday over the Colorado Rapids at the Rose Bowl.

The victory kept the Galaxy (13-2) firmly atop the Western Conference standings, but neither the crowd of 9,741 nor Coach Octavio Zambrano had much to cheer about.

"You can never be happy when you see a performance like this," Zambrano said. "It seemed to me like we were in a daze."

Blame it on rust.

With Major League Soccer on an abbreviated schedule during the World Cup, the Galaxy was coming off a 10-day rest since its previous game, a rousing 5-1 victory over New England.

Blame it on the crowd.

The New England game--forward Carlos Hermosillo's debut--attracted a season-high attendance of 38,383.

Thursday night's sparse showing was a season low.

Blame it on something.

"We were slow," Zambrano said. "We were not reacting."

The Galaxy actually had a few chances early. Hermosillo sent a header over the crossbar. Welton fired a cannon shot that Colorado goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann blocked.

But Los Angeles looked downright sleepy after that, serving through balls that never got through and long balls that carried too long. The Galaxy was consistently caught offside and did not muster a single shot in the final 24 minutes of the half.

Instead, Colorado (6-9) got all the opportunities. In the 41st minute, Rapid defender Peter Vermes sent a long ball into the box. Tahj Jakins outjumped Galaxy midfielder Clint Mathis and headed the ball back to Ross Paule who one-touched a 15-yard shot past a sprawling Hartman.

Consider it a wake-up call.

The Galaxy answered in the 60th minute after Wellington Sanchez was taken down from behind in the box. Cienfuegos tucked the ensuing penalty kick into the upper left-hand corner of the goal.

Then, in the 85th minute, Ezra Hendrickson broke free long enough to serve a high ball to Hermosillo. Employing characteristic strength, the Mexican forward chested the ball directly to Cienfuegos who scored inside the near post.

"When you have a player of Cienfuegos' ability on the team, it's very easy for me to dish it off," Hermosillo said. "I let him do the scoring. That's what he's there for."

Meanwhile, Hartman was busy collecting a season-high 10 saves, seven of them in the second half.

The 24-year-old keeper from Palos Verdes dove right, fully extended, to grab a volley from the foot of Colorado forward Waldir. He dove left, denying Jakins from short range.

"We hit some absolutely point-blank shots at him," said Colorado Coach Glenn Myernick, whose team has lost all three of its games against the Galaxy this season. "He handled them. That's the sign of a good goalkeeper."

And Hartman was playing inspired, energized by a week of watching the planet's best goalkeepers in World Cup matches. He had been itching to leave the couch and show some heroics of his own.

"Honestly," he said, "I felt really good."

The timing could not have been better for a Galaxy team that sometimes looked more like spectators than participants.

"A little rusty, huh?" midfielder Martin Machon said.

"But Kevin was unbelievable. Tonight was his night."

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