The number announced Saturday night at the end of 90 minutes of water-torture soccer at the Rose Bowl was 11,378.
Or the number of shots on goal missed by the Galaxy?
Wide right, wide left, off the crossbar, over the crossbar, into the stands, into the waiting arms of Tampa Bay goalkeeper Scott Garlick--by the end of regulation play, the Galaxy had seemingly exhausted every way not to score.
And so, after a punchless, scoreless 90 minutes, the Galaxy and the Mutiny lined up for another tango with the shootout--scourge of Major League Soccer, but best friend to the Galaxy through the first eight games of its exasperating 1999 season. Five previous matches had gone to the shootout, with the Galaxy emerging victorious three times.
But, true to form Saturday, the Galaxy invented new ways not to score in the shootout--missing twice in four attempts to eventually lose the exercise to the Mutiny, 4-2.
So a weekend-night crowd of less than 12,000 might have been a good thing.
For Galaxy public-relations sakes, the fewer that witnessed this clunker the better.
For the record, the Galaxy attempted--and missed--a season-high 20 shots. Nine were saved by Garlick, one other grazed the top of the crossbar and 10 more went here, there, everywhere but the back of the net.
So inept was the Galaxy's shot-finishing ability that when Cobi Jones finally beat Garlick in the shootout, a massive cloud of green, gold and white confetti--loads of confetti in the Galaxy's colors kept in storage all game--descended from the upper rim of the Rose Bowl.
At last, something to celebrate.
Yet, by the time the last piece of paper settled onto the last empty seat, the Galaxy was walking into the tunnel with nothing to show for the game. Tampa Bay made all four of its shootout attempts--with Pete Marino, Jorge Salcedo, R.T. Moore and Musa Shannon converting, in order. The Galaxy, meanwhile, hit its first two attempts--Jones, followed by Clint Mathis--before Mauricio Cienfuego chipped into the arms of Garlick and Ezra Hendrickson, fittingly, banging the final shot off the left goalpost.
The loss left the Galaxy at 4-5, with Tampa Bay improving to 4-4. And in those nine games, the Galaxy have scored a mere five goals--almost unfathomable for a team that set the single-season MLS scoring record with 85 goals in 1998.
Come back, Eduardo Hurtado, all is forgiven.
And were it not for several exceptional saves by goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, the Galaxy would have never even staggered to the shootout Saturday. Hartman denied Tampa Bay's Jefferson Gottardi from short range in the 28th minute and made outstanding back-to-back saves in the 41st minute--first diving to his left to palm away Mauricio Ramos' free-kick blast from outside the area, then leaping to deflect Chad McCarty's first-timed shot coming off the ensuing corner kick.
In the second half, Hartman turned away another Mutiny assault with a head-turning stop of a point-blank shot by Musa Shannon, left alone from about 10 yards out by a back-heeled pass from Gottardi.
The Galaxy dominated play, outshooting the Mutiny, 20-7, but could put nothing past Garlick. Again and again, the Galaxy swept forward. Again and again, the final maneuver undermined the attack.
The Galaxy's best chance to break through might have been a penalty that was not whistled in the 29th minute, when Welton was taken down inside the box by a hard tackle by McCarty. No foul was called--but then, considering how the Galaxy is shooting these days, a penalty kick for them is as sure a thing as a Shaquille O'Neal free throw.
Cienfuegos missed two prime chances to score on headers in the second half and by the time reserve Zak Ibsen pushed forward in the 86th minute to deliver a soft lob into the waiting hands of Garlick, boos finally emanated from the remaining Galaxy fans.
For the Galaxy, the night was epitomized in the 74th minute, when Hendrickson received a cross from Ibsen, teed up and fired his shot into the back of teammate Joe Franchino.
The Galaxy released midfielder Jaime Caicedo Estupinan. . . . In other MLS games Saturday night, Jeff Cunningham had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Crew defeated the New England Revolution, 2-0, before 24,741 at Columbus, Ohio, in the Crew's first game in their new stadium. Mark Dougherty made five saves for his second shutout of the season and 41st victory of his career. . . . Bobby Rhine scored two goals to lead the Dallas Burn past the San Jose Clash, 2-1, at Dallas before 16,372. The Burn had lost four in a row to the Clash dating to April 5, 1998.
D.C. United beat the Kansas City Wizards, 4-3, in a shootout before 11,186 at Kansas City, Mo. . . . Mark Chung scored a goal and added two assists to lead the New York-New Jersey MetroStars toa 3-2 victory over the Miami Fusion before 14,879 at East Rutherford, N.J.