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LOS ANGELES GALAXY v CHICAGO FIRE
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
7:30 p.m. PT (FSN-PT; HDNet)
April 8, 2006 (WEEK #2) MLS Game #12
The long-time rivals - who had a number of pitched battles for Western Conference supremacy along the way - meet after disappointing losses in their season openers. The Los Angeles Galaxy fell in the rematch of MLS Cup 2005 last weekend, while the Chicago Fire twice failed to hold onto leads in dropping their '06 debut. Oddly, each team has taken turns claiming the season series with undefeated runs over the last four years.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Jose Corro; JAR (opposite): David Bragg; 4th: Jozef Batko
MLS Career: 97 games; FC/gm: 30.7; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 22; pens: 34
Games involving Galaxy: P24 W9 L10 T5; FC/gm: 29.4; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 4; pens: 9
Games involving Fire: P13 W7 L4 T2; FC/gm: 32.6; Y/gm: 4.2; R: 4; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: FW Alan Gordon (sports hernia); QUESTIONABLE: DF Todd Dunivant (L calf strain); FW Quavas Kirk (R foot fracture); FW Joseph Ngwenya (groin strain) ...CHICAGO FIRE - QUESTIONABLE: MF Chris Armas (L ACL surgery); FW Andy Herron (R MCL sprain); DF Tony Sanneh (R lower back strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: CHI: FW Andy Herron (through May 13)
This is the first of two league meetings this season between the one-time bitter Western Conference rivals, now split between the divisions. It's the only game set for The Home Depot Center; they are scheduled for their lone encounter at Bridgeview Stadium on Sept. 23.
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): Galaxy 12 wins (0 shootout), 29 goals ... Fire 10 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... 2 draws
AT LOS ANGELES: (12 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 15 goals ... Fire 4 wins (1 shootout), 14 goals ... 2 draws
LAST YEAR (MLS):
8/13 CHI 2, LA 1 (Marsch 20; Thorrington 38 - Vagenas 53)
9/4: LA 1, CHI 2 (Gomez 24 - Rolfe 11; Mapp 90)
A year ago, the Fire won both league meetings between the two clubs, winning once in Carson and once at Soldier Field, both matches coming within a three-week span.
It was the second time in three seasons the Fire has swept the season series, also winning all three meetings in the 2003 campaign - all by shutout, with two of three coming in Chicago.
But the Fire were winless against the Galaxy in league play in 2004, losing twice (once on each ground) with one draw. And in 2002, the Galaxy won all four league meetings between the clubs.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. CHI: P3 W0 L2 D1 ... Dave Sarachan v LA: P8 W5 L2 D1
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Revolution gained a small measure of revenge, defeating the Galaxy in a rematch of MLS Cup 2005. It was a night full of emotion in Carson. The Galaxy first remembered Doug Hamilton, the club's president and general manager, who passed away during the preseason. They then received their championship rings from last November's triumph against the Revolution.
But unlike that result, to open the '06 season it was New England who hit for the game's only goal, Clint Dempsey sliding in to head home an Andy Dorman free kick from the left edge of the penalty area in the 33rd minute.
Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Nathan Sturgis (Ednaldo da Conceicao 71) - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa (Paulo Nagamura 57), Peter Vagenas, Josh Gardner (Ned Grabavoy 62) - Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez (Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Brian Dunseth, Michael Enfield, Troy Roberts)
"I thought that the first 20-25 minutes of the game we played quite well. We created a couple opportunities," said Sampson. "If we put one of those away it's a different game. I think the emotion of the match, and all the pre-game ceremony before we stepped on the pitch, hopefully wasn't that much of a distraction but in the end I think we'll evaluate that it was."
The Los Angeles Galaxy began defense of their 2005 MLS Cup championship with a difficult result, falling 1-0 to the New England Revolution on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy, along with the Rapids and Real in the Western Conference, came away with no points from the opening weekend.
The Galaxy seemed to ride the prematch emotion through the opening moments of the first half, but then quickly hit a wall. Their play leveled off and never got back on track the rest of the game. They failed to connect in all areas of the field, whether it be from defense to midfield or midfield to attack.
"We just got sloppy I thought, myself included," said right back Chris Albright. "We were technically sloppy all over the field. Possessions where we had a chance to go forward we gave to them and lost out on opportunities."
Said Herculez Gomez: "I thought we started off great, but goals will do that. They'll help your team or they'll crush it, and today it crushed us. Dempsey scored and took the wind out of our sails. It was almost like we were stuck in second gear and they were running on all cylinders."
A year ago, the Galaxy started the season with a 3-0 loss to the Crew in Columbus. This year, the Galaxy began the season at home, but the result was almost the same - a 1-0 loss. Still, a year ago, the Galaxy ended the year lifting the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy.
"Obviously, we are a little bit further along than we were last preseason. I know a lot of the guys were gone with national teams and we met each other pretty much the night before the game in Columbus," Hartman said. "It is disappointing to lose at home of course and disappointing to lose, period. It is disappointing for us to give up another free kick goal, so we know that we have a lot of things we need to work on. I think we need to be better with the ball, possess it more and create more opportunities."
Landon Donovan began the match in a forward role, alongside Herculez Gomez. But as match continued as his service began to dry up, Sampson moved into a midfield role in an attempt to have him see more of the ball.
"We came out and we were playing at home, we had a strong crowd and we were getting our rings. I don't know if because of that we thought we were just going to come out and win the game - but it doesn't happen that way," Donovan said. "Not against a team like that. We better learn fast, or we are going to struggle. Teams come here and they want to win, especially New England. Our attitude wasn't urgent enough and it comes down to people making plays and we didn't make plays. Everybody needs to do that, and tonight they made the play to change the game."
FC Dallas defeated their Brimstone Cup rivals with a come-from-behind victory and a hometown fairytale come true. Chad Barrett gave Chicago a 12th-minute lead, when FCD 'keeper Dario Sala couldn't hold Chris Rolfe's powerful angled shot, and the rebound trickled across the goal to Barrett, who calmly drove it to the back of the net.
But the home side drew level when the always-dangerous Carlos Ruiz made a nice run up the midfield before finding Arturo Alvarez on the left of the penalty area, and he beat Zach Thornton with a shot inside the far post.
The Fire again pulled into the lead in the 54th minute when Ivan Guerrero stripped a Dallas defender of the ball on the left and swung in a cross to a wide-open Rolfe as the Hoops defense was caught out, and he made no mistake in ripping a left-footed drive past Sala.
But Dallas scored twice in four minutes to claim the full points. First Roberto Mina latched onto a bouncing ball outside the area and sent in a shot that deflected off a defender to wrong-foot Thornton in the 66th minute. Then Dallas native Kenny Cooper, making his MLS debut, got onto the end of a Bobby Rhine cross from the right and headed home the game-winner.
Here's Dave Sarachan's team (3-4-1-2): Zach Thornton - C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin (Jack Stewart 89), Gonzalo Segares - Justin Mapp, Diego Gutierrez (Calen Carr 79), Logan Pause, Ivan Guerrero - Thiago - Chad Barrett (Floyd Franks 91+), Chris Rolfe (Substitutes Not Used: Leonard Griffin, Matt Pickens, Dasan Robinson, John Thorrington)
"We had the right attitude and mentality coming into this game, playing on the road," Sarachan said. "We relinquished two leads in the game and felt like at the end of the day a fair result would have been to leave here with a point. We leave here with zero points, so it's disappointing."
The Chicago Fire began their 2006 season and nine-game road trip to start with a disappointing loss, falling 3-2 to arch-rival FC Dallas on Saturday afternoon at Pizza Hut Park. The Fire and Columbus Crew were the only Eastern Conference teams not to claim a point from the opening weekend.
Still, Sarachan wasn't entirely dissatisfied with the season opener. "As first games go, we had our good moments and moments where we needed to be better,'' Sarachan said. "The positives are that we got the first goal and then the go-ahead goal at 2-1. But the negatives are that we gave up a couple of goals that I thought could have been prevented and let them back in it.''
While the loss doesn't get the Fire's nine-game road trip off to the best start, while they await the opening of the new Bridgeview Stadium, the club feel like they've been here before. Last year Chicago played seven consecutive matches on the road from Aug. 19 to Oct. 1, going 4-3.
"We're at a disadvantage, but we just need a good start to keep up our confidence. Not being able to put the game away cost us three points," said Diego Gutierrez. "If you play on the road and score two [goals], you should come away with three points."
Sarachan was encouraged by the strong performance of his second-year striker, who created both Fire markers with his work. "Chris obviously was a part of both goals," Sarachan said. "He's still a guy who is pretty active for us up top and crafty. When we can find him in good spots, good things can happen. I thought he had a pretty good day."
"It wasn't bad for our first game," Rolfe said. "We had some good chances offensively and just a couple of mistakes defensively, but they capitalized on them. It wasn't a bad game. We can definitely take some positive things away from it."