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Galaxy Comes Up Short

Times Staff Writer

The hangover continues.

As does the worst start in Galaxy history.

A late meltdown contributed to the defending Major League Soccer champions losing to the Kansas City Wizards, 2-1, on Saturday night, leaving the team still searching for its first victory.

The Galaxy (0-3-4) gave up an 89th-minute goal to midfielder Preki in front of 15,944 at Arrowhead Stadium before Carlos Ruiz was hit with a red card by referee Kevin Terry for violent conduct four minutes into stoppage time.

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Because of the ejection, Ruiz, the league’s most valuable player last year and leading goal scorer with 24, is ineligible to play next week at Colorado, the final stop of the Galaxy’s season-opening eight-game trip.

According to the radio broadcast, Ruiz was retaliating after being kneed in the head by defender Nick Garcia.

Ruiz scored in the 75th minute on a header off a Chris Albright pass from the right side, tying the score, 1-1. It was his third goal and first in five matches.

“I just tried to put [the ball] in a good spot,” said Albright, who replaced Gavin Glinton at forward in the 67th minute. “Carlos did a good job of getting on the end of it.”

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Said Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid: “We came back, got the equalizer and had one cleared off the line. I thought that we were right around the goal. We also had a series of corner kicks that were dangerous. We even ended up with a good chance after K.C. went up 2-1.

“Right now, we are a little snake-bitten and nothing is going in for us.”

Until Ruiz’s score, the Galaxy had scored only once in its previous 434 minutes.

Kansas City (3-1-4) scored first when forward Igor Simutenkov took a pass from Chris Klein and beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman inside the far post in the 21st minute.

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With Ruiz’s goal, it appeared as though the Galaxy would force the Wizards into overtime for a league-leading sixth time this season.

Then Preki struck.

Preki, always a pest to the Galaxy, took a pass from Chris Brown at the top of the penalty area and fired a low shot past Hartman inside the left post for his fourth goal.

Kansas City outshot the Galaxy, which was playing without midfielders Simon Elliott (New Zealand national team duty) and Ezra Hendrickson (two yellow cards last week), 12-9, and also had more shots on goal, 8-5.

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