Alexi Lalas bore more resemblance to Mark Twain when he had the wild hair flowing from his head and the long, crazy goatee sprouting under his chin.
But the cleaned-up Galaxy defender was sounding an awful lot like the celebrated 19th century writer this week when he proclaimed that reports of the defending Major League Soccer champions’ demise were premature.
“This is still a good team and anybody who thinks otherwise has no clue about the game,” Lalas said of the Galaxy, which is still in search of its first victory of the season as it plays the final leg of its eight-game trip today in Colorado. “I don’t buy that anybody should be panicking.
“I think we’re all frustrated.”
Going 0-3-4 to open defense of your title will do that, especially when you have to play 26.7% of your schedule on the road before ever setting foot on your home turf.
That’s as if the Angels had opened with a 43-game trip.
And the Galaxy will be missing its sparkplug today as forward Carlos Ruiz, last year’s league MVP, will miss the match after being red-carded in the closing moments of last week’s loss at Kansas City.
It was after a collision in the penalty area that Ruiz claimed Wizard defender Nick Garcia had kneed him in the back of the head and MLS fined Garcia $1,000 on Friday. Referee Kevin Terry, though, only saw Ruiz’s swinging reaction.
“I don’t think it’s fair but the referee has the right to mess up,” said Ruiz, who also added that the Galaxy was not panicking.
“Aside from being on the road for eight games, we have to look at what we need to do on the field,” he said. “We expect to be winning when we get home. Things are going great, just like last year, except that we’re not winning.”
Neither is Colorado, the league’s worst team at 0-5-1.
“I think both teams are dangerous,” Galaxy assistant coach Ralph Perez said. “Both teams are at a point where they’re in a corner, scratching and clawing.
“I think we’ve got to go there and get a good result. And to me, a good result is not a tie.”
U.S. Roster Announced
U.S. national team Coach Bruce Arena will bring 10 veterans of last summer’s World Cup to France next month for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Landon Donovan, who scored two goals for the U.S. team that reached the quaterfinals at Korea/Japan ’02, leads the returners, which include defenders Eddie Pope and Gregg Berhalter and midfielder Earnie Stewart, at 34 the team’s oldest player.
MetroStars goalkeeper Tim Howard, who appears close to a deal with Manchester United of the English Premier League, figures to be the starter.
The team begins training Sunday and departs for France on June 11 for the June 18-29 competition.
Beckham on Move?
Real Madrid’s interest in David Beckham may have faded, but the England international now is being linked with European Champions Cup winner AC Milan and Spanish power Barcelona, several newspapers reported.
Italy’s largest sports daily, Gazzetta dello Sport, reported that AC Milan had reached a preliminary agreement to buy Beckham, a Manchester United midfielder, but acknowledged that Barcelona’s offer of $38 million was believed to be higher.
Tisha Venturini-Hoch, the first woman to win championships in NCAA, Women’s United Soccer Assn., Olympics and World Cup competition, will retire after the WUSA season.... William Vasquez’s goal in extra time led Independiente Medellin of Colombia to a 2-1 victory over Gremio of Brazil to reach the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.
Times wire services contributed to this report.