FULLERTON, Calif. (Tuesday, September 3, 2002) - It was goals by committee as Carlos Ruiz, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones and Simon Elliott each scored to lead the Los Angeles Galaxy past the Dallas Burn, 4-1, on Tuesday night at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium. With the victory, Los Angeles advances to its second consecutive U.S. Open Cup Final on the weekend of October 26-27 against the winner of the semifinal between Kansas City and Columbus at a site to be determined.
"It means an awful lot to reach the finals again. Last year, we participated in three competitions and made it to three finals and this year we're in two competitions and we've already made it to one final," said Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid. "To reach that many finals in two years shows a tremendous amount about the quality and character of this team."
Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made six saves on the night, earned his third straight victory to add to his first two over the San Jose Earthquakes (1-0) and the Minnesota Thunder (4-0).
Los Angeles stormed out to an early 1-0 lead in the 11th minute as Carlos Ruiz scored on a blistering shot from 30-yards out and into the upper right corner of the goal. Peter Vagenas kicked off the scoring opportunity playing a ball out of the back for Sasha Victorine, who knocked the ball square for Ruiz. Letting the pass roll across the front of his body, Ruiz eyed the goal and fired a laser past Burn goalkeeper Matt Jordan.
"We demonstrated that we had a good initiative and a taste for victory tonight," said Ruiz. "It was a beautiful goal, a goal we could all share in the celebration, but the score reflects the job we did on the field as a team."
In the 17th minute, Mauricio Cienfuegos added a spectacular goal of his own for his second in this year's tournament. Victorine flighted a ball to Ezra Hendrickson, who flicked it on to Ruiz at the top of the box. Ruiz laid off a soft pass for a charging Cienfuegos, who fired a low shot through traffic beating a stunned Jordan who saw the ball only at the last instant.
Forward Ronald Cerritos almost pulled one back for Dallas in the 32nd minute, when a counter attack up the left wing found him open the box. However, Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis made a superb diving save to his right just pushing the low shot wide of the post. In the 34th minute, midfielder Cobi Jones scored to extended the Galaxy's lead to 3-0. On a quick counter attack, Cienfuegos found Jones just over midfield, who sprung Ruiz up the right wing. Ruiz returned the favor rewarding Jones' all out sprint in the box. Defender Ryan Suarez made a sliding attempt to break up the play, but the ball deflected right into Jones, who knocked off the right post and into the goal.
"Tonight, definitely gives us a boost of confidence with a 4-1 win and makes us very happy," said Jones. "We played very well and got the early goal, that's what helped us in the last couple of games getting the early goal. We've got to keep building on this into the playoffs."
Following a slow start to the second half, the Galaxy added its fourth goal of the match on a Simon Elliott penalty kick in the 81st minute. Breaking into the penalty box, Cienfuegos was pulled down from behind by Dallas defender Paul Broome. Elliott stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick, shooting the lower left corner as the Burn's Jordan dove the opposite direction.
In the 89th minute, Dallas pulled back a goal off an excellent strike from forward Ronald Cerritos. At the end line, Antonio Martinez sent a swerving cross from the left wing to the far post where Cerritos powered a diving header off the underside of the cross bar and into the net.
The Galaxy will have an opportunity to be the first team to win back-to-back U.S. Open Cup titles since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms in 1982-83.