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THE HOME DEPOT CENTER
7 pm PT (KFWD)
A desperate Dallas Burn side comes to the West Coast knowing that they will likely need to win out to claim the final playoff berth available in the Western Conference. Still, a loss won't necessarily eliminate them from the MLS Cup Playoffs (unless San Jose wins) - though it certainly create a must-win game next weekend in Dallas against the Earthquakes. The Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend became the only club in MLS history to earn a postseason berth in every season of the league's existence, and while they have slim hopes of still winning the top seed, more important is guaranteeing that they at least have home-field advantage for the first round - which the full three points would go a long way in securing.
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Daivd Bragg; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
MLS Career: 25 games; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 6; pens: 11
Games involving Galaxy: P4 W2 L2 T0; FC/gm: 33.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 2; pens: 2
Games involving Burn: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 41.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 0; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - DOUBTFUL: DF Chris Aloisi (L knee MCL sprain); DF Hong Myung-Bo (L calf strain) ... DALLAS BURN - DOUBTFUL: GK Jeff Cassar (L hamstring pull); QUESTIONABLE: DF Steve Jolley (R ankle sprain); MD Eric Quill (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Cobi Jones (USA, Oct. 9 v El Salvador); Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica, Oct. 9 v Panama) ... DAL: Cory Gibbs, Eddie Johnson (USA, Oct. 9 v El Salvador)
SUSPENDED: LA: Ryan Suarez (through Oct. 9); Tyrone Marshall (through Oct. 16)
YELLOW PERIL: LA: Andreas Herzog (10 CP in 2 gms) ... DAL: Chris Gbandi (additional 10 CP); Simo Valakari (additional 10 CP); Ronnie O'Brien (20 CP)
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Galaxy 16 wins (1 shootout), 61 goals ... Burn 10 wins (1 shootout), 40 goals ... 7 draws
AT DALLAS (16 meetings): Galaxy 11 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals ... Burn 3 wins (1 shootout), 12 goals ... 2 draws
The teams play in the fourth and final league meeting this season, the second of a couple of meetings within three weeks after doing that earlier in the season. The Galaxy won the first two meetings before the Burn claimed a victory on Sept. 18 at Fair Park.
Eddie Johnson also struck for two goals before the halftime break. Johnson took advantage of a dreadful mistake in the 11th minute, stripping Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman of the ball in the penalty area after he failed to deal with a long back pass.
Johnson then doubled his pleasure five minutes before the break, pounding a rebound into an empty goal after Hartman had turned aside a Jason Kreis shot on the turn from inside the area.
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Carey Talley, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Milton Reyes (Chris Gbandi 75) - Ronnie O'Brien (Bobby Rhine 69), Brad Davis, Simo Valakari, Eric Quill (Jordan Stone 82) - Eddie Johnson, Jason Kreis
Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-1-1): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright (Arturo Torres 64), Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa (Guillermo Gonzalez 82), Peter Vagenas, Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog (Joseph Ngwenya 46) - Alejandro Moreno
The Galaxy defeated the Burn twice in three weeks in May, winning 3-1 at the Cotton Bowl then 4-1 at The Home Depot Center on May 29 as Jovan Kirovski scored a pair of goals.
Sasha Victorine headed home a Cobi Jones cross from close range when the Galaxy took advantage of a defensive error after just nine minutes, then after the break, the Galaxy doubled their lead through an own goal after Steve Jolley headed a free kick past 'keeper Scott Garlick when battling Victorine in the area (65).
Ronnie O'Brien pulled a goal back for the Burn six minutes later when he finished off a long run through the heart of the Galaxy defense, hooking a shot home from inside the area while falling, but just a minute later the home side restored their margin to two when Kirovski headed home a Marcelo Saragosa cross that the luckless Jolley again helped over the line.
Kirovski then secured his double, converting a penalty kick four minutes deep into second-half stoppage time for his fifth goal of the campaign, tied for second in the league with teammate Alejandro Moreno and San Jose's Brian Ching, one behind still-injured Galaxy marksman Carlos Ruiz.
On May 8 at the Cotton Bowl, the Los Angeles Galaxy won for the first time in 17 games on the road - and became the first team to defeat the Dallas Burn this season - in a 3-1 victory.
Toni Nhleko gave the Burn the lead after just six minutes when he turned home a Ronnie O'Brien pass on a well-executed short corner, but the Galaxy struck back just after the halftime break when Jovan Kirovski hit twice in eight minutes.
First he headed home a Chris Albright cross when all alone at the spot (57), then hit a snap shot on the turn from the top of the area (65). Carlos Ruiz scored his league-leading sixth goal in stoppage time, surviving a head-over-heels collision with Burn 'keeper Scott Garlick before sliding the ball into an empty net.
A year ago, the teams played to draws in the two Dallas home matches, then the Galaxy won both of the encounters at the HDC. Both matches at Dragon Stadium ended in 1-1 draws - on April 12 (O'Brien 4 - Ruiz 30) and May 17 (Davis 82 - Glinton 43).
The Galaxy then won 3-0 on June 28 at the HDC (Victorine 20, Albright 60, Ruiz 63 pen), and 2-1 on Aug. 30 (Ruiz 50 pen, Moreno 90 - Davis 12).
Before the Galaxy's two victories to close out the season series, seven of the previous eight matches between the two teams went to overtime - with only one of those seeing a golden goal (Aug. 24, 2002). The only other game from 2001 on that ended in regulation time was a 3-0 Galaxy victory on June 22, 2002.
Before the Galaxy win, the visiting team had won just once in the last six-plus years, covering the last 18 meetings (LA 0 - DAL 1 at the Rose Bowl, Sept. 6, 2000. The previous victory by a visiting team was the heaviest victory in MLS history, an 8-1 Los Angeles Galaxy victory at the Cotton Bowl on June 4, 1998.
Jason Kreis leads all Dallas players vs. Los Angeles with 10 goals, 7 assists. Brad Davis has 3 goals, 1 assist for his career v L.A. - 2 goals while with the Burn. Carey Talley has 2 goals v the Galaxy for his career, none while in Dallas, while Eddie Johnson also now has 2 goals v Los Angeles.
Carlos Ruiz leads current Galaxy performers against the Burn with 6 goals, 1 assist, while Cobi Jones has 3 goals, 3 assists, and Chris Albright has 3 goals, 2 assists. Sasha Victorine also has 3 goals (and 1 assist) v Dallas, while Jovan Kirovski now has 3 goals. Mauricio Cienfuegos is the club's all-time points leader (3 goals, 10 assists), while Eduardo Hurtado is the all-time goals leader (6 goals).
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. DAL: P1 W0 L1 D0 ... Colin Clarke v LA: P3 W1 L2 D0
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy failed to win for the third match running in truly disheartening circumstances, a late own goal giving the Kansas City Wizards a 1-1 draw at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. The Galaxy have won just once since mid-July, though they still hold second place in the Western Conference with 40 points from 28 matches, tied with the Colorado Rapids (though Los Angeles owns the tiebreaker, and a match in hand), with only the faintest of hope remaining of claiming the top seed in the West.
The Galaxy dominated proceedings from the start, winning an early penalty kick, but Kansas City 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi turned aside Carlos Ruiz's 16th-minute attempt.
The home side finally went ahead through Tyrone Marshall after 65 minutes, when he was left unmarked at the near post to nod home a corner from close range. But the Wizards drew level in the 89th minute thanks to an own goal, Sasha Victorine turning a rolling Josh Wolff cross from the left flank into his own net.
The Galaxy are the only team in MLS history to have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of the nine years of league history, securing a place by virtue of the single point against Kansas City.
"Even though we've qualified a spot in the playoffs, the players don't feel like they've qualified for the playoffs," Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson said. "They're not happy, they're not satisfied at all, they're deeply disappointed. A tie tonight is unacceptable and inexcusable and now we have to prepare for Dallas. Basically, we lost two points, but we lost more than that; home field in this league is a big advantage."
Sampson made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes the previous Saturday. Chris Albright returned from suspension and came back in at right back, Sasha Victorine returning to the left side of midfield, Alejandro Moreno back onto the substitutes' bench.
Here's Sampson's team (4-2-3-1): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez (Danny Califf 46), Paul Broome - Marcelo Saragosa, Peter Vagenas - Cobi Jones (Arturo Torres 86), Jovan Kirovski, Sasha Victorine - Carlos Ruiz (Joseph Ngwenya 82)
"I thought the first 45 minutes was probably the best soccer I've seen since I've been here, But we obviously didn't do ourselves any favors by not putting the ball in the back of the net," Sampson said. "We earned the penalty, we should have finished that. We had three or four clear opportunities in the first half. This team has to learn to reward itself when we put ourselves in that situation."
Since his arrival, the Galaxy have won just once in six matches, taking only six of a possible 18 points.
Both of Sampson's first-choice central defenders were booked, meaning they went over the caution point limit and earned suspensions. But while Suarez will miss the Dallas match, Marshall must serve his on Oct. 16, as he will be away on international duty for the Burn match.
For the second consecutive match, Andreas Herzog did not figure into Sampson's plans. He started 20 of 21 matches for previous boss Sigi Schmid (the one match missed through suspension), but came off for a substitute in the four matches before losing his first team place.
"We're looking for a lot more mobility offensively and defensively," Sampson said. "(Herzog's) not as young as he used to be. The season's been a very long season and it's taken a toll on his legs."
The Dallas Burn lost for the fifth time in their last seven matches, falling out of the playoff picture for the time being with a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium last Saturday. The Burn are now on 35 points from 28 matches on the campaign, one behind the San Jose Earthquakes in the battle for the last available playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Earthquakes hold the tiebreaker between the clubs, though they will meet on the season's final weekend.
The Revolution kept alive their playoff dreams while dealing the Burn a blow in a battle of the two fifth-place teams in their respective conferences.
The home side scored goals on either side of halftime, Marshall Leonard giving New England the lead on 42 minutes as he hit an inch-perfect for Taylor Twellman to power home past Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick.
The Revolution then doubled the lead two minutes after the break, Jose Cancela and Pat Noonan playing a neat one-two before Cancela served a delicate chip from the left side that found Steve Ralston racing at the near post, who tucked home a glancing header just inside the stick.
"We started the game lively, we were sharp and we created some stuff," Burn coach Colin Clarke said. "We had a good chance in the first two or three minutes and we don't do well enough with it. So, from possibly being one-nil up, it doesn't happen. Like I said, we were sharp for the first 20 or 25 minutes and they started to work their way into the game and we gave up a bad goal."
Clarke made five changes to the team that lost 2-0 at home to the MetroStars the previous weekend. Scott Garlick made his return between the posts, making his first start since being injured after the June 5 match.
Clarence Goodson came into central defense for Steve Jolley, while Clarke completely rebuilt the midfield, Ronnie O'Brien and Eric Quill reclaiming their wide midfield jobs in place of Bobby Rhine and Brad Davis, while Jason Kreis was given central midfield duties ahead of Oscar Pareja, Toni Nhleko returning to the first team.
Here's Clarke's team (4-3-1-2): Scott Garlick - Carey Talley, Cory Gibbs, Clarence Goodson (Oscar Pareja 80), Milton Reyes - Ronnie O'Brien, Simo Valakari, Eric Quill (Brad Davis 53) - Jason Kreis - Eddie Johnson, Toni Nhleko (Bobby Rhine 72).
"All we can do at this point is worry about ourselves," said Burn coach Colin Clarke. "We're probably going to have to get six points in our next two matches."
PLAYOFF SCENARIOS The Los Angeles Galaxy have clinched a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Dallas Burn would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss in Los Angeles AND a San Jose Earthquakes victory.
Following are the tiebreaking procedures if teams are level in the standings:
a. Head-to-head competition against all other teams equal in points, based on highest points-per-game average.
b. Overall team goal differential.
c. Total goals scored.
d-f. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season road games only.
g-i. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season home games only.
j. Fewest disciplinary points
k. Coin flip.
As of Oct. 6, here is how the MLS Cup playoffs would have looked: SERIES A: (E1) Columbus vs. (E4) Chicago
SERIES B: (E2) MetroStars vs. (E3) D.C. United
SERIES C: (W1) Kansas City vs. (W4) San Jose
SERIES D: (W2) Los Angeles vs. (W3) Colorado
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of CLB/CHI vs. Winner of MET/DC
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of KC/SJ vs. Winner of COL/LA
MLS CUP 2004: Winners of Conference Championship Games
Series A - D played under home-and-home, total goals format ... If teams tied on aggregate, 30-minute, golden-goal overtime period follows, then followed by penalty kicks (if necessary) to determine Series winner ... Higher seed holds home-field advantage for Game 2 of Series ... Conference Championship Games and MLS Cup, if tied after 90 minutes, determined by 30-minute, golden-goal overtime ... If neither team scores during that time, the series will be decided via penalty kick shootout held according to FIFA regulations
Series A-D - Game One
Weekend of Friday, October 22 - Sunday, October 24 @ LOWER-SEED home site
Series A-D - Game Two (+ 30-minute golden-goal period, if tied on aggregate goals)
Weekend of Friday, October 29 - Friday, October 31 @ HIGHER-SEED home site
Eastern Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
Western Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
MLS Cup 2004 / Sun., Nov. 14 - ABC / 3:30 PM ET - The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.