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MLS All-Stars Win Game, Then Praise

They beat Chivas of Guadalajara, 3-1, prompting opposing coach to declare gap between the leagues closed.

August 03, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Late in the second half, the goat in the red-and-white vertically striped shirt gave up.

Tired of scuffing restlessly at the unappetizing rectangle of artificial grass that was its allotted corner of the Home Depot Center in Carson, the animal laid down and took a nap.

It's tough being the mascot of a team that is being systematically dismantled.

And that's exactly what happened to Chivas of Guadalajara on Saturday afternoon as Mexico's most popular team was soundly beaten, 3-1, by a select team of Major League Soccer players in the league's eighth annual All-Star game.

Chivas had most of the support in the announced crowd of 27,000, especially during the keenly fought but ultimately scoreless first 45 minutes in which Guadalajara was dominant, but second-half goals by Ante Razov, Carlos Ruiz and DaMarcus Beasley gave the MLS team a deserved victory.

Jair Garcia scored for Guadalajara, whose coach, Eduardo de la Torre, admitted afterward that the perceived gap between the American and Mexican leagues has all but disappeared.

"This game just proves to me that American players can adapt themselves to any system very quickly," he said. "They are not just growing, they already have reached the point where they are competitive worldwide.

"Nowadays, in any competition, whether it's on the club or the national team levels, Americans and Mexicans are at the same level."

Saturday's match was unique in the All-Star series, being the first time that the outcome mattered to both teams and the first time that the game had a real competitive edge.

Bob Bradley, the New York/New Jersey MetroStar coach who was in charge of the MLS team, said he prefers it that way.

"I hated the MTV All-Star games of the past few years," he said. "I think we have young talent in this league that we want to show off the right way. I never enjoyed some of the antics as much as some people.

"Now we have a game that I think shows off the talents of the players. There's a fine line there, too, because we all know that in the midst of a busy season you have to be careful, you don't want to have players injured, there's a risk involved.

"But I certainly think in terms of showing off our league we want to have exhibitions that are the real thing. Growing up and seeing some FIFA All-Star games at Giants Stadium years ago, you always saw those games as great displays of soccer.

"They weren't games where there was just silly stuff. It was great players showing off their skills. They played it like the real thing.

"I think it's important for us to put together games that highlight the talents of our players, and today we did that."

Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman kept the MLS side in the match with some fine saves in the first half and the league's All-Stars took charge in the second half.

The opening goal came shortly after Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos had replaced Preki, who at age 40 is the only player to compete in every All-Star game.

A Cienfuegos diagonal pass out to Landon Donovan on the left allowed Donovan to get behind the Guadalajara defense and send a square pass in front of the net for Razov to redirect into the net without much difficulty.

That was in the 57th minute. Nine minutes later, Garcia tied it up, beating the advancing Hartman to a long ball floated in from the right wing and rounding Hartman before scoring.

The MLS team came right back, with Carlos Bocanegra sending a long downfield pass to Ruiz and the Galaxy striker rising to power a header past goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez to restore the MLS team's lead.

Beasley notched the fourth goal from a sharp angle in the 83rd minute, but by then the goat wasn't paying any attention.



Hometown Heroes

How Galaxy players performed in Saturday's MLS All-Star game:

* Dan Califf -- Played entire game on defense.

* Mauricio Cienfuegos -- Entered in the 57th minute, assisted on Ante Razov's goal one minute later.

* Kevin Hartman -- Played entire game in goal, making nine saves.

* Hong Myung-Bo -- Played the second half on defense.

* Carlos Ruiz -- Entered after halftime and scored the winning goal in the 68th minute, earning MVP honors.

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