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ALL-STARS WIN GAME, CHIVAS' RESPECT MLS TEAM'S THREE GOALS AFTER HALFTIME DEFEAT MEXICANS MLS ALL-STARS 3, CHIVAS 1.

Byline: Fred J. Robledo Staff Writer

CARSON - There was nothing surprising about the 27,000 strong at sold-out Home Depot Center - littered in the red- and white-striped jerseys that belong to Chivas of Guadalajara.

The surprise was the concession of admiration by Chivas coach Eduardo de la Torre after the Major League Soccer All-Stars defeated Chivas 3-1 in the league's eighth All-Star event Saturday.

The departure from MLS' East-West format changed the All-Star Game from a circus to a competition, which was further hyped by Chivas owner Jorge Vergara, who guaranteed a day earlier Chivas would win and avenge Mexico's loss to the United States last year at the World Cup in South Korea.

Chivas outplayed the MLS All-Stars in the first half only to come away scoreless, and second-half goals by MLS' Ante Razov, DaMarcus Beasley and All-Star MVP Carlos Ruiz turned the momentum for good.

By the time it was over and de la Torre had made his way to the postgame news conference, it appeared the league had added another believer.

``This game proves to me that the American player adapts himself to any system very quickly,'' de la Torre said. ``This sport is not only growing, but it has grown to the point where it is competitive at any level in the world.''

Few gave the MLS team a realistic chance of winning because it had only one day to train, but de la Torre dismissed that as ignorance.

``The fact the MLS All-Stars just got together doesn't mean that the quality of the players decreased,'' he said. ``It's the same quality and same group of players.

``It might have been obvious they weren't 110 percent together on the field, but this is the All-Star team of this league. It's the best they have to offer, and they proved it on the field.''

There seems little doubt this is the direction the MLS All-Star Game will take in the future, and for MLS coach Bob Bradley, it's a welcome break from games of the past - where Landon Donovan once scored and ripped off his shirt. He was wearing a sports bra underneath to poke fun at Brandi Chastain's postgame celebration in the 1999 Women's World Cup.

``I was never a fan of the MLS All-Star Game of the past few years,'' Bradley said. ``I never enjoyed some of the antics as much as some people. I think we have young talent in this league that we want to show off the right way. Now, you have a game that I think shows off the talent of the players.

``There's a fine line, too. In the midst of a busy season, you don't want to have players injured. But in terms of showing off our league, we want to have exhibitions that are the real thing. Growing up and seeing some FIFA All-Star games in recent years, you saw them as great displays of soccer. It wasn't silly stuff. And I think it's important for us to put together games that highlight our players, and I think today did.''

After a scoreless first half, the MLS team made five substitutions, then another when Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos came on in the 56th minute and immediately made an impact with his first touch.

Cienfuegos spotted Donovan darting to an open space, then threaded a pass through three defenders to a rushing Donovan alone along the left side.

With Chivas goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez sneaking out to cut off the angle, Donovan easily slid a pass to the middle to an unmarked Razov, and the UCLA product directed it home in the 57th minute for a 1-0 advantage.

After Chivas' Jair Garcia tied the game in the 66th minute, the Galaxy's Ruiz made it short-lived.

Ruiz, who had missed two one-on-one opportunities after checking in at halftime, thrives when the degree of difficulty is raised, and his header in the 68th minute to give the All-Stars a 2-1 lead was nothing short of spectacular.

Running down a long cross from Carlos Bocanegra (UCLA) while sandwiched between two Chivas defenders, Ruiz outleaped them both, snapping a header inside the left post to put the MLS team back in front.

Beasley provided the finishing touch, scoring in the 83rd minute.

``Chivas came out strong and played very well in the first half,'' Bradley said. ``But I felt like we had a group in the second half that got things going. We were able to step the pace up and get good goals. The goal from Bocanegra to Ruiz was a great goal. That was the play of the game.''

Fred Robledo, (626) 962-8811

fred.robledo(at)sgvn.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) DaMarcus Beasley, right, celebrates with the Galaxy's Carlos Ruiz (20) after scoring the MLS All-Stars' third goal.

(2 -- color) Chivas of Guadalajara's Jair Garcia heads the ball in the first half Saturday. Garcia tied the MLS All-Star Game 1-1 with a goal in the 66th minute.

Chris Carlson/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 3, 2003
Words:833
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