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Biggest Loss Is Off the Field

Galaxy learns Victorine will be sidelined at least six weeks because of a hip injury, then loses to Fire, 1-0, on a rare goal by Perez.

August 21, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

The Galaxy lost more than a mere league match Wednesday.

The defending Major League Soccer champions were not only shut out by the Chicago Fire, 1-0, they also learned earlier in the day that they would be without midfielder Sasha Victorine for at least six weeks after he was diagnosed with a break in his right hip.

Victorine, who had played every minute (1,690) of every MLS game for the Galaxy, was injured during Saturday night's match against the MetroStars, when he went down untouched just before halftime as he brought the ball up the Home Depot Center's east sideline.

"I think I tripped on the grass, took a couple of steps trying to regain my balance and all my weight came down on my ... foot," Victorine said after that game. "My heel caught in the ground and all my weight was going forward and it hyper extended. Basically, my hip just jammed in.

"The thing that [ticks] me off the most was that I had beat the guy. Suddenly, the field kills you and the 50 yards of open space you see is for nothing."

The trip to Naperville, Ill., Wednesday also wound up being for nothing for the Galaxy (5-7-8).

Chicago midfielder Orlando Perez saw to that with his goal in the 73rd minute before 11,052 at Cardinal Stadium.

It was only the second goal by Perez in four years in the MLS.

The low liner from just inside the left side of the box was set up by rookie forward Damani Ralph. Perez beat defender Tyrone Marshall when Marshall left his feet in anticipation of a crossing pass.

The Galaxy's three-game unbeaten streak ended and the team remained winless on the road (0-6-5).

The Eastern Conference-leading Fire (10-4-6) extended its unbeaten streak to six games. It was the Fire's first win over the Galaxy since Aug. 25, 2001, a 3-1 victory at the Rose Bowl.

Chicago dominated throughout, attempting a Galaxy-opponent record 23 shots overall and holding the Galaxy to a franchise-low two shots. The Fire also attempted 13 shots on goal to the Galaxy's record-tying low of one.

The Galaxy did not attempt a shot until the 85th minute, when Peter Vagenas' attempt was kick-saved by goalkeeper Zach Thornton, who had his fifth shutout.

Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made a team-record 12 saves in the loss, bettering his previous mark of 10 saves, which he had accomplished three times, the last on May 17, 2000 at San Jose.

Losing Victorine, who has two goals and an assist in 19 games, comes at a particularly harsh time for the Galaxy, which has struggled with continuity in its midfield.

Galaxy officials won't be able to find help through a trade; Wednesday was the trading deadline.

Should Victorine, 24, be ready to play in six weeks, the Galaxy will have four regular season matches remaining, three on the road.

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