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Soccer | DAILY REPORT

Old Faces Give Galaxy a Victory

March 24, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Playing for the first time in front of their home fans as Major League Soccer champions, the Galaxy introduced a new forward and a new defender Sunday night.

They even broke out new uniforms.

But it was three familiar faces who got the Galaxy over the top against a pesky C.D. Motagua team from Honduras in the deciding game of a CONCACAF Champions' Cup first-round series.

Alexi Lalas' header in the 72nd minute, which was set up by Mauricio Cienfuegos and Cobi Jones, was the difference in a 1-0 Galaxy victory in front of 5,307 at Cal State Fullerton. The Galaxy won the series on aggregate goals, 3-2.

The Galaxy next will meet C.D. Necaxa of Mexico, which beat Jamaica's Arnett Gardens in a first-round series by an aggregate 1-0, in the quarterfinals, tentatively scheduled for April 9 and 16.

"It was just a bunch of old guys playing with each other," said Lalas, who also had a goal in the Galaxy's 2-2 draw with Motagua in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on March 16.

Lalas' goal was set up by a short corner kick into the box from Cienfuegos that was picked up by Jones. Jones then sent a quick cross pass to an onrushing Lalas, who easily beat Motagua goalkeeper Noel Valladares.

It was another big goal for Lalas at Fullerton. In 2001, his golden goal sent the Galaxy into the U.S. Open Cup final.

"He should have gone to Cal State Fullerton instead of Rutgers," Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid joked. "He would have had a great [scoring] career.

"He's just a guy that gets big goals for us."

The Galaxy was without reigning league MVP Carlos Ruiz, who had to watch the game from the press box after picking up two yellow cards in last week's match.

Forward Alex Pineda Chacon, who joined the team in a Jan. 31 trade with New England, made his Southland Galaxy debut. Also making his first local appearance for the Galaxy was defender Hong Myung-Bo of South Korea.

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