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Ho-Hum, Galaxy Breaks a Record

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Galaxy set another meaningless record Wednesday.

At least that was the interpretation Coach Octavio Zambrano put on his team’s 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium.

The result improved the Galaxy’s record to 7-0 this Major League Soccer season and increased its unbeaten run in regular-season games to 13, breaking the 12-0 league mark Los Angeles set in 1996.

But the coach and players took a ho-hum approach to it all.

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“We really haven’t talked about it during this whole winning streak,” Zambrano said. “Tonight was the first time that I mentioned it because how many times do you get a chance to break a record? Not that many.

“These are the kinds of records that are good when you look back and talk about statistics and stuff like that, but in the real world they don’t mean anything.”

Still, 7-0 beats being 2-5, which is where the defeat left the Wizards.

Of course, Kansas City has more problems than its poor play. Attendance, for one, is a growing concern. A crowd generously announced at 4,406 turned out on an overcast but dry midweek night. It was the second time in four home games this season that fewer than 5,000 fans have turned up at Arrowhead.

Not that the Wizards have much to offer. Preki seems to be saving his best for the U.S. national team. Vitalis “Digital” Takawira drifts constantly into offside positions, ruining attacking moves. Mark Chung’s shooting is so off target that he might consider visiting an optician.

Most of all, the team lacks a playmaker, someone who can pull the strings in midfield and control the tempo of the game and show some creativity.

Someone like the Galaxy’s Mauricio Cienfuegos.

Once again, the Salvadoran midfielder was the inspiration behind Los Angeles’ victory. It was his goal in the 39th minute off a pass by Welton that was the lone bright spot in 45 of the most incompetent, foul-ridden minutes of soccer played this MLS season.

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By game’s end, referee Noel Kenny had stopped the game 39 times because of fouls and had issued four yellow cards, one of them to the Galaxy’s Wellington Sanchez.

The Ecuadorean midfielder has struggled since coming to Los Angeles in the trade that sent Eduardo Hurtado to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. His performance Wednesday night was feeble in the extreme and Zambrano took him out after only 36 minutes.

Jose Vasquez replaced him and did a far better job. It was Vasquez, in fact, who put the game away in the 77th minute with his first goal of the season.

Cienfuegos, naturally, was involved. Initiating a Galaxy fastbreak, he sent a pass up the right wing to Cobi Jones, the league’s leading scorer, and Jones did the rest. At first he seemed to be killing time, holding the ball and waiting for teammates to catch up.

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Then, almost unexpectedly, Jones threaded a perfect pass diagonally through the Kansas City defense and right into the path of Vasquez, whose shot gave Wizard goalkeeper Mike Ammann no chance.

The goal was one of the better plays on a night filled with miscues, fouls and frustration.

All the same, the Galaxy is unbeaten and has a new record.

“We aren’t concerned about that,” Jones said. “We just want to play well and get as many wins as possible. What it comes down to is that this is all for the playoffs, getting good positioning there. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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Team captain Dan Calichman echoed the thought.

“The 13-0 is a little silly,” he said. “I mean, we lost our first two in the [1997] playoffs. It’s nice for people to say, but we’re not thinking about that. We’re thinking we’re 7-0.”

Which is not a bad record either.

Around the MLS

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John Harkes scored two spectacular goals and assisted on another as D.C. United defeated the San Jose Clash, 3-1, before 9,755 at Washington.


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