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Galaxy Staves Off Mutiny by Making Long-Range Goals

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Galaxy took one look at the rough, soggy field and realized it wasn’t the best of nights for precision soccer.

“You’ve got balls skipping, balls bouncing,” defender Greg Vanney said. “It’s a good time to take some chances.”

Sure enough, two long-range shots--one from Vanney, the other from Martin Machon--provided the winning margin as the Galaxy beat the Tampa Bay Mutiny, 3-1, Wednesday night before 6,560 at Houlihan’s Stadium.

The victory gave the Galaxy (16-3) a split on this East Coast trip and takes some of the sting out of a 3-0 loss to D.C. United last week.

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“Of course, we were hoping to have two wins,” Machon said. “But after any win, you’re happy.”

The same cannot be said for the Mutiny (5-15), which has struggled all season.

“We were just stupid in our running,” said defender Frankie Hejduk, who announced Tuesday he will leave at season’s end to play for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga. “We pressed when we shouldn’t have pressed and we didn’t play a great defensive game as a unit.”

Tampa Bay played well enough to keep things close in the first half, but the Mutiny often sat back on defense, a tendency that--along with the field conditions--left the door open for the Galaxy.

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“We told our players that when they had the shot, they should take it,” Galaxy Coach Octavio Zambrano said.

The first chance came in the 18th minute when Machon stepped in front of a clearing pass from Hejduk. The midfielder ripped a shot from 25 yards that found the upper corner of the net.

His goal broke a drought of 131 scoreless minutes for the league’s highest-scoring team.

“Was it that long?” Machon asked. “Ah, we knew that we were going to score.”

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The Mutiny answered with a nifty play three minutes later when a series of quick passes allowed midfielder Jorge Salcedo to slip past the back line and tie the score from close range. But that was the last bright spot for Tampa Bay on an otherwise muggy, gloomy night.

The Galaxy regained the lead in the 35th minute as Wellington Sanchez sent a corner kick to nearly the same spot from which Machon had scored. This time, Vanney did the honors. His shot deflected off a defender and bounded past Mutiny goalkeeper Doug Petras.

Petras was filling in for Thomas Ravelli, the Swedish national team veteran serving a six-game suspension for kicking a ball at a referee during a July 4 game.

“I didn’t play very well,” Petras said. “That makes it difficult for us to win.”

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Meanwhile, the Galaxy settled down on defense, reacting more quickly to the long ball. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made a handful of saves, most notably a point-blank stop against Mutiny forward Alan Prampin before halftime.

Any suspense left was erased in the 63rd minute. Cobi Jones fed Sanchez at midfield, then took a through pass in return. Jones drove almost to the goal line before sending a cross that forward Welton tucked inside the far post.

It was the kind of crisp, clean movement to which the Galaxy aspires. Not that the team has anything against taking a chance from outside.

“The field was so heavy, Machon said. “We just tried to keep scoring.”

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