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Soccer / DAILY REPORT

Galaxy Has to Set Alarm

September 30, 2002|PAUL GUTIERREZ and GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The Galaxy's younger and deeper midfield was supposed to give it the edge over the Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer's playoffs.

It hasn't happened yet and, as a result, the Galaxy is staring at elimination.

Kansas City's midfielders, led by 39-year-old Preki, have toyed with their Los Angeles counterparts in the quarterfinal series, as evidenced by Saturday night's 4-1 Wizard rout, which evened the series at three points each and set up a deciding Game 3 Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl.

"We felt overwhelmed everywhere," said Peter Vagenas, who returned to the Galaxy lineup after sitting out two games because of a strained right hamstring. L.A. tied a team record for most goals allowed in a playoff game.

"They came out with good energy," Vagenas said. "They came out with good pressure. They took a chance by throwing a lot of people forward. Either they were going to get the result they got, or we'd sneak behind them and get a goal. That's the chance they had to take, and it obviously paid off for them."

Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid was so stunned by Kansas City's success at midfield that he took out veteran playmaker Mauricio Cienfuegos at the half and replaced him with forward Chris Albright. Midfielder Simon Elliott acknowledged that his unit was overrun by eighth-seeded Kansas City and said it had better wake up.

"They weren't doing much different from what they did in the first game," Elliott said. "We just were playing badly. We weren't communicating. We weren't working. We weren't helping each other."

Elliott said the top-seeded Galaxy's lackadaisical play was disappointing, especially considering that it had played sluggishly in Game 1 but escaped with a 3-2 overtime win.

"Part of what's so good about this team is that within the ebb and flow of the game, we can make little adjustments to help us out," Elliott said. "We haven't done that in this series at all. Kansas City has been better than us technically."

Said Vagenas: "But then again, this is why we play the whole season, to get the deciding game at home. We've been a great team when it comes to one game that decides the whole series, so hopefully we can continue that."

The Galaxy is 4-1-0 all-time in the final game of a three-game series.

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U.S. Women Prevail

Two goals by Mia Hamm and one apiece by Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow and Aly Wagner earned the United States women's national team a 5-1 victory over Russia at Uniondale, N.Y., Sunday in the opening game of the four-nation U.S. Women's Cup.

Natalia Barbachina scored on a penalty kick for Russia in the 84th minute to deny goalkeeper Briana Scurry a shutout.

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Germany Spurns Event

Coach Rudi Voeller said it is unlikely that World Cup runner-up Germany will take part in the FIFA Confederations Cup in France next summer because the eight-nation tournament from June 18-29 does not fit into Germany's calendar.

"I am also against the prospect of sending a reserve team that would fare poorly, as in 1999," Voeller said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild.

Germany lost to Brazil and the United States three years ago when Mexico was host of the tournament. The 2003 Confederations Cup will feature world champion Brazil and continental champions Cameroon, Colombia, France, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S., plus one invited team.

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South Africa Wins Cup

An 89th-minute goal by Benedict Vilakazi gave South Africa a 1-0 victory over Malawi in Durban, South Africa, and a 4-1 aggregate victory in the two-match Castle Cup final.

"It was really fantastic to finally win this trophy and to do it with home-based players," said South Africa Coach Ephraim Mashaba, whose team had only two World Cup players.

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