Fire alarms starting to sound

a road match against an MLS squad that would never be more decimated than the MetroStars were on Saturday at Giants Stadium. However, the Los Angeles Galaxy's performance in a 2-1 loss against a team with countless regulars missing due to injury or international duty can be rated by the figure that shows up under "SAVES" that MetroStars rookie goalkeeper Zach Wells was forced to make: 0.

The club with the best record in MLS, despite missing key players in Carlos Ruiz and Jovan Kirovski, had an opportunity to cement its ranking and status but wound up losing a match that championship teams should not lose. Although it was decided in the very final moments on a last-minute goal by Mike Magee, the final 2-1 result was an accurate depiction of a match which the Galaxy seemingly wanted no part of.

Although it may seem that a criticism of the Galaxy under these circumstances would take away from the gutsy and commendable effort from a MetroStars squad that started six reserves, the fact remains that the best team in MLS did not show a sign of its place in the standings. From top to bottom the Galaxy were listless, which is surprising given the commanding presence and experience of veterans like Cobi Jones, Andreas Herzog, Danny Califf and Hong Myung-Bo.

The effects from these types of games do not disappear quickly for either team and Wednesday's rematch at The Home Depot Center will be an intriguing setting to prove this point.

Wizards vs. Earthquakes awaits: The Kansas City Wizards have a playing style all their own, which polarizes the soccer faithful. But with yet another road victory registered on Saturday (while missing two key players), they are one game away from wrapping up their league season-high five-game tour de force (3-0-1 after four games) and shaping up to be the team to beat. Consistency, strong teamwork and shrewd finishing (sometimes from unlikely sources) has their season taking on a true championship feel about it.

And on Saturday comes the test of all road tests when Bob Gansler's crew travel to Spartan Stadium, where the Earthquakes are relentless. On that same field last Nov. 15, the Wizards were just seven minutes away from advancing to another MLS Cup championship match before Brian Mullan and later Landon Donovan crashed their dreams. The entire league knows what a win at Spartan Stadium signifies and if the Wizards can pull it off they will leave an indelible mark on their title aspirations.

Andy Pavon is a freelance soccer writer taking another perspective on the matches of the past weekend, past the box scores and standings. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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