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Galaxy Gets Best of the Clash, 2-0

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

It takes two words to describe the first 83 minutes of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s playoff game against the San Jose Clash on Sunday: “tense” and “scoreless.”

The final seven minutes need a bit more explaining.

For instance, how defender Robin Fraser broke the deadlock with a goal that deflected off two players--Martin and Lewis.

Not Dean and Jerry, Tim and Eddie. Neither of them was laughing.

Or how goalkeeper Jorge Campos, again playing up front, set up Eduardo Hurtado for a 90th-minute second goal in a 2-0 Galaxy victory in front of 27,833 at the Rose Bowl.

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Or how two Clash players, Eric Wynalda and Oscar Draguicevich, received red cards in the waning moments and will miss Wednesday night’s deciding third game in the best-of-three series.

Suffice to say that the Galaxy won a nail-biting Major League Soccer playoff game that appeared headed for a shootout until Fraser took command and helped tie the Western Conference series at one game apiece.

“I just didn’t know if they would score first or we would,” Galaxy Coach Lothar Osiander said.

With 6:35 to play, Fraser abandoned his defensive position, took off up the middle of the field with the ball and, from about 18 yards, unleashed a shot that hit defenders Tim Martin and Eddie Lewis and found the middle of the net.

Goalkeeper Dave Salzwedel had dived to his right to save the initial shot but had no chance to reach the ball after the two deflections.

“I had it covered,” Salzwedel said of the shot.

“There was no way that was going in,” added San Jose Coach Laurie Calloway.

And there was no way Wynalda was staying in the game after pulling down Galaxy forward Cobi Jones at midfield, in front of referee Joshua Patlack, with only 3:15 to play.

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“If I were Cobi, I would have done my best Greg Louganis impression too,” Wynalda said.

Jones laughed at the suggestion. “You can tell Wynalda that was no dive,” he said. “I was running and he blatantly grabbed me and pulled me. Everyone there saw it. It was no dive whatsoever.”

Either way, Wynalda, the Clash’s top offensive threat, will be sidelined Wednesday, which is a huge boost to the Galaxy’s hopes of advancing to the conference finals against the winner of the Kansas City-Dallas series, which is also tied at one game apiece.

“It always looks bad when you drag a guy off his feet, so I guess the referee had no alternative,” Calloway said. “[Avoiding a second yellow card and subsequent ejection] is something Eric should have been thinking about at that stage, a player of his experience. He looked like he could win us the game in those final 10 minutes, so I was doubly disappointed.”

Also confined to the bench Wednesday will be Draguicevich, whose temper got the better of him in the final minute. Having earlier been substituted, he ran onto the field to protest to the referee about the Galaxy wasting time. He was yellow-carded, but kept yelling and was ejected.

“He stepped on the field, which was out of order, you can’t do that,” Calloway said. “I tried to drag him off, but unfortunately the referee had seen him already. Well, he was in his face. He couldn’t avoid seeing him.

“We’ve had a reasonable record this year as far as players not getting in trouble with referees. Unfortunately, two have got in trouble tonight. One for a foul that was avoidable and another for going on the field, which is also avoidable.”

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What is not avoidable is a third game--Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., also at the Rose Bowl--thanks to Fraser’s goal-scoring heroics.

“As I hit it, I looked up and saw it deflect off a couple of people and couldn’t believe it went in,” he said of his second goal of the season. “It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but we’ll definitely take it at this point.

“There was a huge sense of relief. We didn’t want to go to a shootout, where it’s a toss-up. We wanted to do it in regulation, so [when the goal came] there was an indescribable sense of relief.”

Not only at having won, but also at not having to contain Wynalda in the deciding game.

“Wynalda’s a great player and I’m sure they’re going to miss him severely,” Fraser said, “but I’m sure they’ve got players on the bench who are going to come in and do a great job. It’s playoff time and everybody pretty much steps up at this point.”

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