answered in the second half by a wonderful goal from Freddy Adu -- gave the Los Angeles Galaxy a wild 4-2 victory against D.C. United on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.
Moreno's hat trick -- all three goals set up by Andreas Herzog -- was the second-fastest in MLS history, and was immediately followed by a fourth Galaxy goal and United's first before halftime. But Adu also gave the RFK faithful a glimpse of his supreme talents with a superb strike of his own in the losing effort as United tried desperately to pull back into the game in the second half.
Moreno answered any questions about how the Galaxy offense would handle the absence of injured star and MLS-leading scorer Carlos Ruiz, out with a severly sprained ankle. United owned all of the early portion of the game -- in fact, United goalkeeper Nick Rimando didn't even touch the ball until a half-hour was gone -- but the Galaxy exploded shortly thereafter.
The goal-fest started in the 35th minute, after Rimando's first (and only) save of the night led to a corner. The United goalkeeper then came up empty as he charged from his goal in an attempt to punch Herzog's service clear. Moreno took a couple of stabs in the six-yard box, but finally poked the ball over the line before Dema Kovalenko could clear.
Just four minutes later Moreno struck for the second time. Herzog found the Venezuelan international with a long ball up the left flank behind defender Mike Petke, and Moreno raced into the penalty area before hitting a low shot from the corner of the goal area that slid under Rimando.
In the 43rd minute, the Herzog-Moreno combination struck again on a terrific goal. Herzog's measured cross from the left flank found Moreno cutting across the face of goal, and he flicked the ball with the outside of his foot and past Rimando into the far side netting.
The eight-minute span marked the second-fastest hat trick in MLS history, only to another Galaxy performance, when Harut Karapetyan scored three goals in five minutes in a Los Angeles 8-1 victory at Dallas on June 4, 1998. In addition, for Moreno, it was five goals on five consecutive shots (including his first two goals this season), the first player in MLS history to achieve that feat.
A shellshocked United squad continued to struggle and rookie striker Joseph Ngwenya took advantage moments later, scoring his first goal of the season. Former United player Chris Albright whipped in a good cross from the right touchline which Moreno headed back across the face of the goal where Ngwenya dived to make it 4-0 for the visitors. The four goals in nine minutes was the quickest ever allowed by United.
But the home side was able to end the half on a positive note thanks to a blistering shot by Ronald Cerritos, who hit home from just outside the area in stoppage time, curling the ball inside Kevin Hartman's right post for his second goal of the season.
United thought they had made it 4-2 at the 63-minute mark, but Kovalenko saw his headed finish on a rebound ruled out for offside.
But D.C., and Adu, sent the crowd into rapture four minutes later. Collecting the ball on the right flank, he cut inside and went on a brilliant individual run through the Galaxy penalty area, faking several defenders before depositing the ball in the top left corner with a left-footed strike.
United continued to press forward, but Hartman stood tall, making three saves in the final five minutes. The best chance fell to Stewart after another mazy run from Jaime Moreno split the Galaxy defense, but Hartman closed the gap quickly and parried the shot.
The Galaxy had an opportunity to put the game completely out of reach at full time, when Marcelo Saragosa found the ball at his feet in front of United's goal with plenty of time. His shot beat Rimando, but not defender Bryan Namoff, who cleared the ball out of the goalmouth.
Los Angeles will next be in action on Saturday in an all-California match-up with defending MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes. That match kicks off at 10 p.m. ET and can be seen live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports en Espanol. United is also in action Saturday as they head to the Mile High City to face the Colorado Rapids at 9 p.m. ET.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Alejandro Moreno (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Los Angeles Galaxy (4-1-3) vs. D.C. United (2-3-3)
May 19, 2004 -- RFK Stadium
LA -- Alejandro Moreno 3 (Andreas Herzog 2) 35
LA -- Alejandro Moreno 4 (Andreas Herzog 3) 39
LA -- Alejandro Moreno 5 (Andreas Herzog 4) 43
LA -- Joseph Ngwenya 1 (Alejandro Moreno 1, Chris Albright 3) 44
DC -- Ronald Cerritos 2 (Bryan Namoff 1) 47+
DC -- Freddy Adu 2 (unassisted) 67
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Hong Myung-Bo, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome, Cobi Jones (Ricky Lewis 89), Andreas Herzog (Ned Grabavoy 74), Marcelo Saragosa, Sasha Victorine, Alejandro Moreno, Joseph Ngwenya (Arturo Torres 71).
Substitutes Not Used: Dan Popik, Scot Thompson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Alejandro Moreno 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Alejandro Moreno 3); FOULS: 20 (Alejandro Moreno 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4 (Andreas Herzog 3); SAVES: 10 (Kevin Hartman 10)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Mike Petke, Brandon Prideaux (David Stokes 52), Earnie Stewart, Brian Carroll, Dema Kovalenko, Jaime Moreno, Joshua Gros, Ronald Cerritos (Freddy Adu 60), Alecko Eskandarian.
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Ara, Ryan Nelsen, Ben Olsen, Troy Perkins, Eliseo Quintanilla, Doug Warren.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Dema Kovalenko 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 12 (5 tied with 2); FOULS: 21 (Joshua Gros 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Dema Kovalenko 1); CORNER KICKS: 14 (Earnie Stewart 13); SAVES: 1 (Nick Rimando 1)
LA -- Cobi Jones (caution; Dissent) 34
LA -- Chris Albright (caution; Reckless Foul) 54
DC -- Alecko Eskandarian (caution; Reckless Foul) 77
DC -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Professional Foul) 84
LA -- Ned Grabavoy (caution; Pushing, Holding) 91+
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: -Steven Taylor; Bahij Salman
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-75-degrees
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.