GALAXY IS OUT OF U.S. CUP SUDDEN-DEATH OVERTIME GOAL CARRIES CHICAGO TO WIN CHICAGO 2, GALAXY 1.
FULLERTON - Those who missed the final episode of the hit show ``Survivor' to attend Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinal between the Galaxy and Chicago Fire witnessed two of the best teams in MLS provide enough drama for the evening.
It had everything but a good ending for the Galaxy. With a cozy 7,124 packed inside Cal State Fullerton stadium, the Fire outlasted the Galaxy after Josh Wolff scored in the 112th minute of the second sudden-death overtime to beat the Galaxy 2-1. It was L.A.'s second loss to the Fire in five days.
With the win, Chicago advances to the Sept. 22 Open Cup final against either New York/New Jersey or Miami.
It was another heartbreaking loss for the Galaxy, which had a late 1-0 lead and a man-advantage since the 51st minute after Carlos Bocanegra was tossed for throwing Luis Hernandez to the turf.
``There is no excuse for losing that game,'' Galaxy defender Greg Vanney said. ``We were up a man and a goal with 10 minutes to play. It's almost a joke we let that happen.''
There were 15 yellow cards in all and seven for the Galaxy in a rough-but-spirited end-to-end match that could have gone either way. But in the end it's the same old story for the Galaxy.
All L.A. can do now is turn its attention to the MLS playoffs, which start next month.
The Galaxy took control in the 78th minute. Mauricio Cienfuegos sent a cross to Hernandez, who chested it in front for Cobi Jones. Barely ahead of the trap, Jones finished from seven yards out to put L.A. ahead 1-0.
It wasn't enough. Vanney miss-timed a slide tackle, leaving Fire striker Ante Razov alone in front of the Galaxy's net. The former Galaxy forward took advantage, beating Matt Reis to the far post to even the match at 1-1 in the 85th minute.
``I take responsibility for us even going to overtime,'' Vanney said. ``He should have never got behind me.''
If anything, the loss left the Galaxy even hungrier and hoping it can meet Chicago in the first round of the playoffs, which is a strong possibility.
``I don't think there is any doubt we can beat this team or that we should beat this team,'' Vanney continued. ``I hope we do see each other in the playoffs. I think we're the two best teams in the West and we definitely have something to prove against them.''
Fire coach Bob Bradley admitted that these two teams bring out the best in each other.
``There's a lot of respect between both teams,'' said Bradley. ``We've had good games with the Galaxy since we've been in the league. Tonight there was incredible heart and determination on both sides. But I give my team a lot of credit, they played their guts out with 10 guys and they were rewarded by going to the final.''
In the opening half, Vanney sent a ball deep in the box for Sasha Victorine in the 26th minute. Victorine tried to head the ball back for Luis Hernandez, but Thornton stepped in and intercepted the short cross.
Moments later, Jones sent a ball behind Chicago's defense for Hernandez - barely ahead of the Fire's trap, but Thornton deflected his shot away.
Fire midfielder Hristo Stoitchkov nearly caught Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis by surprise, drilling a 30-yard shot inches over the left crossbar in the 39th minute.
Other than those first-half chances, neither team could do much. Fire defenders Bocanegra and C.J. Brown did a good job containing and pushing Victorine and Hernandez away from trouble.
Photo: Dema Kovalenko, right, of the Chicago Fire tries to get around Simon Elliott of the Galaxy during Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup semifinal game.
Nick Ut/Associated Press