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Galaxy Takes First of Four

In first of series of matches against Earthquakes that includes playoffs, L.A. wins, 3-0, behind Moreno's two goals.

October 19, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

It was supposed to be the retiring Mauricio Cienfuegos' night.

Instead, second-year forward Alejandro Moreno stole the show.

Not that Cienfuegos minded much. In fact, the diminutive playmaking midfielder who was honored with a pregame tribute was happy to share the Home Depot Center stage Saturday night. Especially with Moreno scoring two goals to lead the Galaxy to a slump-busting 3-0 defeat of the San Jose Earthquakes in the Galaxy's regular-season home finale, setting the tone in the first game of the teams' four-match derby.

"I love how hard he works," Cienfuegos said of Moreno. "No matter how many minutes he plays, he always presents himself well."

The Galaxy (9-12-8), which ended a streak in which it had lost three straight games and four of five, and the Earthquakes (14-7-8), who are scoreless in their last 322 league minutes, meet in San Jose next Saturday for the regular-season finale before beginning a two-game, aggregate-goals series on Nov. 1.

It was Moreno who got the Galaxy off to a good start with the first multi-goal game of his career, thrilling a sellout crowd of 27,000.

"We're losing a great player but we're losing a better person," Moreno said of Cienfuegos, who assisted on Moreno's first goal. "It's only fitting [that he had an assist]. He's known for setting things up, being creative, finding the open guy. All you have to do is finish."

Which is what Moreno did in the sixth minute.

After Cienfuegos took Hong Myung-Bo's short corner kick from the right side, he immediately sent a high ball into the middle of the six-yard box, where Moreno went over the back of San Jose midfielder Richard Mulrooney and headed the ball past goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

The Galaxy went up 2-0 in the 35th minute.

Defender Danny Califf sent a long ball to the left flank that was run down by forward Carlos Ruiz, who, from the left side of the 18-yard box, sent a pass into the middle.

A sliding Moreno beat the convergence of Onstad and Earthquake defenders Chris Roner and Jeff Agoos to get his right foot on the ball and tip it into the net for his fifth goal of the season. The Galaxy gained a man-advantage in the 43rd minute when Earthquake defender Craig Waibel, a reserve with the Galaxy last season, was hit with a red card by referee Michael Kennedy for his hard slide tackle on Moreno. Waibel did not think he deserved the ejection.

"Look at it this way," he said, "if I didn't want [Moreno] on the field, I wouldn't have gone after the ball. I don't try to take people out.

"I'd slide tackle my mother if she was wearing the other jersey. I don't try to take people out."

Galaxy midfielder Simon Elliott scored the final goal in the 61st minute, taking a through-ball from Ruiz, who had two assists, and beating Onstad on the breakaway.

While the Galaxy gained some momentum with the win, Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid said the true test would begin with the playoffs.

"This team has never gotten too low when things have not gone too well for us this season," Schmid said, "and hopefully we don't get too high after this. Everything is important but we need to keep things in perspective."

Just ask Cienfuegos.

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