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Newest Galaxy Star Has Yet to Shine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It’s still a bit early to tell whether the Galaxy’s acquisition of Mexican striker Carlos Hermosillo has been a bust, but the clock is ticking.

Six games into his first Major League Soccer season, the 33-year-old forward still is looking for his first MLS goal. This after being hailed as one of Mexico’s most prolific scorers of all time.

Galaxy Coach Octavio Zambrano is preaching patience, however.

“The process of adaptation [to a new team and a new league] has to take place,” Zambrano said Friday. “When he came in and played the first match, he had had only one week of training. He was off for a full month [beforehand], so it wasn’t the best of circumstances for a player to showcase himself. . . .

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“Since then, I think each game he has shown a little bit better, but certainly not what we are all expecting. So I am holding my criticism or evaluation until he has had a chance to play a few more games.”

The first of those is tonight at 7:30 against defending MLS champion Washington D.C. United at the Rose Bowl.

The Galaxy is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the expansion Miami Fusion in a match Los Angeles should have won--especially if Hermosillo had been on target.

“I thought the last game was a perfect game for him to put his stamp on the game because Miami was no match for us,” Zambrano said. “But it didn’t happen. So we missed another opportunity. I think it would have been great for his confidence and for everybody involved.

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“But tonight he has another chance to do it on an even bigger stage and we’ll see what happens.”

A two-time World Cup player who netted 275 goals in 457 games in Mexico, Hermosillo has only five assists with the Galaxy and the spring is tightening.

“He’s frustrated,” Zambrano said. “He has told me that he wants to succeed in this league, he wants to prove his worth. It’s difficult to think that a player of his stature would be under pressure, because obviously he has played a lot of games and been in situations where pressure is just part of the game.

“But still it has taken him time to adjust. A lot of things are different here.”

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The only benefit the Galaxy has seen so far from Hermosillo has been at the gate.

“From the financial standpoint for this league, he has been a great acquisition,” Zambrano said, “because he has brought a lot of people into the stadiums. So he has done his bit as a marquee player. But the fans are impatient [for goals], and in our city it doesn’t take much [before the booing starts].”

Hermosillo is a finisher, pure and simple. His game has always been built on getting himself into a position to score and then delivering. That style appears to clash with the play of such fast-moving and quick-passing forwards as Welton and Cobi Jones.

“We’re not used to dealing with a true striker,” Zambrano said. “We’ve never really had one. There are pluses and minuses that come with that. Certainly, Carlos is not a guy who is going to get behind defenders with pace. He’s more a guy who, in the box, is going to do his thing. He’s proven to be a terrific goal scorer doing that. We are trying to utilize that aspect of his game as best we can.”

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Could it be that Hermosillo is simply waiting for the playoffs?

“I don’t think I want to buy that explanation,” Zambrano said. “It wouldn’t sit well with me. That is not something I would want to hear.”

MLS Notes

The Miami Fusion, in last place in the Eastern Conference, fired coach Carlos “Cacho” Cordoba and replaced him with Ivo Wortmann.

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