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Hartmanís guile provides Galaxy with victory, $2.5 million for MLS.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

LOS ANGELES (Friday, January 19, 2001) -- The Los Angeles Galaxy is going to Spain as one of two CONCACAF representatives in the 12-team FIFA World Club Championship July 29-August 12 where the minimum payout per entrant is $2.5 million. The Galaxy is going without scoring a goal from the run of play in its two matches here, but thanks to goalkeeper Kevin Hartmanís ability to stop penalty kicks in the Galaxy's opening win, and then again tonight when he saved tries by Marco Etcheverry and Ben Olsen to prevail in a shootout for the second match in a row.

Tonight was a textbook example that penalty kicks, both taking them and stopping them, are not purely a crap shoot. There is technique, and Hartman has it down well. He moves back and forth along the goal line, trying to disturb the shooter. It seems to work.

"I try to disrupt them," Hartman said after advancing to Sundayís CONCACAF Championship Cup final against Olimpia of Honduras. "I wanted to interrupt their ability to read me. I actually have my mind made up which way Iím going well before they shoot, but the movement distracts them and helps me."

In contrast, United goalkeeper Mark Simpson went to his right on every shot, and on every shot, the Galaxy players sent their attempts the other way. Hartman went a different way on every shooter, and against Etcheverry and Olsen, he guessed right.

Considering this was so early in the Major League Soccer preseason, this was a well-played match by both teams. It was physical and it was intense. Both teams showed the signs of playing two matches in two days as the second half wore on, but given the fact that the MLS season s still nearly three months away, both teams should be proud of their effort.

Tactically, Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid had the upper hand. Los Angeles started only three defenders, but quickly dropped back as many as four midfielders. Whenever United attacked in numbers, it found itself with little room and facing a packed defense.

Both teams exhibited good ball movement in the early going. In the third minute, midfielder Bobby Convey got lose on the left side and sent a cross through the box that Olsen could not convert. Then three minutes later, Simpson had to come up with a point-blank save on striker Adam Frye off a low cross from Cobi Jones.

While United certainly looked better than it did through much of last season, it continues to have difficulty defending restarts and corner kicks. Defender Carlos Llamosa was forced to foul in the box when Galaxy midfielder Ezra Hendrickson ran free under a free kick, and, just a few minutes later, midfielder Richie Williams had to clear from the goal line midfielder Simon Elliottís shot off a corner.

Even with its trip to Spain assured, Los Angeles will have to play a hot Olimpia Sunday at 4 p.m. (ET) -- televised on Univision -- in the tournament final. In the other semifinal tonight, Olimpia routed Pachuca of Mexico 4-0 with surprising ease. All four Olimpia goals were highlight-reel affairs with Midfielder Danilo Tosello, a Uruguayan international, dominating in the midfield, and Denilson Costa putting three in the net.

"Maybe they will give us some room to play the ball more than United did tonight," Schmid said, "Maybe weíll be able to do more.".

United will meet Pachuca for third place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on Galavision. Player ratings

D.C. United

Starters

Goalkeeper Mark Simpson - 6.5: Did not do well in the shootout, but played a solid 90 minutes.

Defender Jeff Agoos - 6: A competent match, but not out of the ordinary.

Defender Eddie Pope - 5.5: Is still not completely match fit, and had to come out after a slight concussion. Seemed to run well through most of the first half and looks well on his way back. Good news for United and for United States coach Bruce Arena.

Defender Carlos Llamosa - 5: Strong at times. but relied too much on physical play which resulted in the first penalty kick for L.A..

Defender Carey Talley - 5.5: A solid performance, both defensively and pushing into the attack.

Midfielder Richie Williams - 6: A good performance.

Midfielder Ben Olsen- 5.5: Not as strong a performance as the opening match. Dangerous at times, but ineffective in key moments.

Midfielder Bobby Convey -- 6: Continues to improve by leaps and bounds. Now if he could only score his first professional goal.

Midfielder Marco Etcheverry - 5: Put in a great deal of effort, but was held in check by the Galaxy defense.

Forward A. J. Wood - 4: Was not a factor.

Forward Chris Albright - 5 Worked hard, showed great pace, but was largely ineffective.

Reserves

Defender Mark Watson (46th minute) - 5: In his United and MLS debut, showed himself to be totally focused on defense, clearly a mark of his years in England. How he will fit into United attacking back line will be interesting to watch.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Starters

Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman - 8: Came up very big when it mattered.

Defender Greg Vanney 6: A spotty performance. Converted his penalty kicks and made several strong plays, but had problems at times.

Defender Alexi Lalas - 5: Demonstrated the experience of a veteran, but showed the effect of a year off.

Defender Paul Caligiuri - 6: Not a great match, but was up to the task when he had to be.

Midfielder Ezra Hendrickson - 5: Much better going forward than on defense where he was prone to scary.

Midfielder Peter Vagenas - 5.5: A competent performance. Not flashy, but got the job done.

Midfielder Simon Elliott - 6: His usual dependable outing. One of the better players for the Galaxy.

Midfielder Zak Ibsen - 6: A solid defensive performance.

Midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos - 5.5: Effective early, but disappeared for most of the second half.

Forward Cobi Jones - 8: The best player on the field, a threat all night.

Forward Adam Frye - 5.5: Good pace, but lacks experience. Improving quickly.

Reserves

Forward\midfielder Sasha Victorine (62nd minute) - 5: High energy, but not much in the way of results.

Midfielder Brian Kelly (88th minute): No rating.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman He can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com..

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