Clint Mathis scored the fourth-fastest goal in Major League Soccer history, finding the back of the net after only 33 seconds, as the Galaxy defeated the Kansas City Wizards, 2-1, before about 2,000 at the Rose Bowl Sunday afternoon.
The announced attendance was 8,929. As with most figures in MLS, no one took that seriously.
Certainly, the Wizards felt right at home. They regularly draw only about 2,000 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. Naturally, the Galaxy had its excuses ready. The game was shown live on ESPN and was going up against the Mexico-Saudi Arabia FIFA Confederations Cup game, also on television.
The Galaxy (11-7) should have put the game away in the first half, but managed only one other goal, Ezra “E.Z.” Hendrickson’s second of the season, in the 22nd minute.
Kansas City’s Canadian national team striker Alex Bunbury scored the best goal of the match, a stunning sidewinder in which he contorted his body to slam a right-foot volley off Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman’s fingertips in the 35th minute.
“The ball came through to me and it deflected up into the air,” Bunbury said. “My first reaction was to turn and try to get it on target because it was a good [scoring] opportunity.
“I couldn’t have hit it any better. I was very fortunate that it went in. It was a nice goal, but the most important thing for me is winning and we didn’t win. So for me it was a goal with no value.”
Kansas City (5-14) dominated the second 45 minutes and twice came within inches of tying the score. A shot by Bunbury hit the crossbar in the 68th minute and Chris Klein also was denied by the woodwork with five minutes left in the game.
“He’s a quality player,” Wizard Coach Bob Gansler said of Bunbury. “He’s been everything we thought he would be, not only in terms of his scoring but he’s so good at holding the ball and getting other people involved. He’s extremely comfortable in the middle of combinations, which we didn’t have before.”
Gansler, the U.S. 1990 World Cup coach, said the Wizards were unlucky in the second half.
“We outplayed them,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. It’s the old adage, you play as well as the opponent allows you to play and we didn’t allow them to play well in the second half and we revved it up a couple of notches. We were the better team out there by a considerable margin.”
Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid didn’t disagree.
“‘Sometimes, I think a mark of a good team is a team that doesn’t play its best and still is able to win,” he said. “I think today for sure we didn’t play our best, especially in the second half, and we were still able to win.
“Our movement off the ball was not as good as it has been and certainly our passing was not as sharp. We had enough opportunities in the first half to take a bigger lead. We were a little bit fortunate that they hit the [woodwork] a couple of times, but overall I’m still happy with our team.”
Mathis’ first-minute goal, off a cross by Greg Vanney, was the fastest in Galaxy history. Only Giovanne Savarese (22 seconds), Imad Baba (26 seconds) and Johnny Torres (29 seconds) have scored faster goals in MLS history.
Goals by Roy Lassiter and Cary Talley gave depleted DC United (13-7) a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution (8-10) at Foxboro, Mass. D.C. United was without seven starters because of international duty or injury. . . . The Tampa Bay Mutiny (8-11) defeated the Colorado Rapids (12-5) in a shootout at Denver. After a 2-2 tie in regulation, the Mutiny won the shootout, 3-2.