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Ruiz Makes Most of Chances

Galaxy striker scores twice in a 2-0 victory over Columbus and L.A.'s new-look lineup brings forth positive results.

April 25, 2004|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

When it was all over Saturday night, when Carlos Ruiz had single-footedly dismantled the Columbus Crew, the Galaxy striker walked over to Robin Fraser and the two shook hands.

Fraser and Ruiz have a long history, dating to the days when Fraser was one of the most accomplished defenders on the U.S. national team and Ruiz was the Guatemalan thorn in the side of the Americans.

These days, Ruiz is proving too prickly for any Major League Soccer team to handle.

Fraser and the other three Crew defenders did all that they could to stop him on a warm evening at the Home Depot Center, but he still scored twice as the Galaxy won, 2-0, in front of 20,317.

"He's clearly a very special, gifted player," Columbus Coach Greg Andrulis said in a subdued Crew locker room. "His second goal tonight was just a tremendous individual effort.

"You've got to give him credit for that. He seems to find a way every game."

Ruiz, the league's leading scorer in each of the last two years, has scored five goals in four games this season to help the Galaxy to a 2-0-2 start.

His record against Columbus is even more impressive. In six games against the Crew in two-plus seasons, Ruiz has seven goals.

On Saturday, Fraser worked tirelessly for 90 minutes to contain him, but Ruiz still managed to find the back of the net.

"He's very, very crafty," the former Galaxy captain said. "He's got to be one of the best forwards in the league at being able to really make the most of one good chance. He just finds good spaces."

Ruiz's first goal came on a 59th-minute penalty kick that was awarded when Crew defender Eric Denton upended Galaxy winger Joseph Ngwenya after the Zimbabwe player had faked him out with a nifty move to the inside.

Ruiz sent the ball left as Crew goalkeeper Jon Bush went right and it was 1-0.

The second goal, 24 minutes later, was remarkable.

Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Saragosa sent the ball downfield to Ruiz, who passed it wide to Paul Broome sprinting down the left wing. Broome cut right, then cut left, turning midfielder Duncan Oughton inside out, before crossing the ball into the box.

Ruiz, with Fraser right on him and Bush seemingly well positioned on the goal line, struck a right-foot volley that flew past both of them.

"It was a well-timed run and a perfectly executed cross," Fraser said. "That's a tough ball to defend, but I could have done better. It hit me and it still went in.

"He's very crafty at finding space in the box, and when he does find that space he doesn't miss very often."

The loss dropped the Crew to 0-3-0.

"The guys fought hard, but when things aren't going your way, they aren't going your way," Andrulis said.

Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid, meanwhile, was basking in the success of his new-look lineup.

With three starters out injured or ill, Schmid had the chance to experiment and took full advantage.

Minus the former UCLA trio of Cobi Jones, Peter Vagenas and Sasha Victorine, he allowed Ned Grabavoy to make his MLS debut, gave Ngwenya and Saragosa their first MLS starts and gave Broome only his second Galaxy start.

All four did well, with Saragosa's clearance of a shot by the Crew's Jeff Cunningham off the goal line and Broome's late run and cross underlining their fine performances.

"He's world class," Broome said of Ruiz. "If I get the ball in there, he'll get on the end of it and he did. It was a good finish by him."

The only sour note for the Galaxy came when defender Danny Califf came off the field after 67 minutes because of a sprained ligament in his right knee. The injury will cause him to sit out the U.S. team's match against Mexico in Dallas on Wednesday and might keep him out for several weeks.


In other MLS games:

Chicago 1, Washington 0 -- Damani Ralph scored the first goal of the season for the Fire (1-1-2) for a victory over D.C. United (1-2-1) in front of 21,235 at Washington.

Freddy Adu didn't enter the game until the 72nd minute for United and picked up his first yellow card for pulling on the jersey of Andy Williams, Chicago's Jamaican international midfielder.

Colorado 1, San Jose 0 -- Chris Henderson scored a first-half goal and the Rapids (1-0-2) made it stand up in a victory over the Earthquakes (1-2-1) in front of 8,425 at Denver.

Dallas 1, Kansas City 0 -- Toni Nhleko scored in the 17th minute to lead the Burn (2-0-1) over the Wizards (1-1-1) in front of 10,269 at Dallas.

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