Originally created 03/19/00

Burn win MLS season opener

DALLAS -- Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov scored twice for the Chicago Fire in his MLS debut Saturday, but Ariel Graziani's two second-half goals lifted the Dallas Burn to a 4-2 victory in the season opener for both teams.

Stoichkov, joint-leading scorer at the 1994 World Cup, put Chicago up in the 14th minute on a header inside the near post off a cross from Chris Armas.

After Burn forward Jason Kreis's header in the 28th minute tied the score, Stoichkov made it 2-1 on a breakaway three minutes before the break.

"I am not surprised the way I played, but we lost and that is bad," said Stoichkov, who signed a one-year contract Wednesday.

"It's sad to lose even though I scored two goals."

Dallas, which eliminated Chicago from the playoffs last year, rallied with three second-half goals.

Graziani scored in the 55th minute when a Chad Deering shot bounced off Fire goalkeeper Greg Sutton. Graziani made a quick dribble to the right and scored easily.

Eric Dade gave Dallas its first lead 24 minutes later, turning in a cross from Oscar Pareja, and Graziani closed the scoring with five minutes to play after Fire defender C.J. Brown failed to cut off a pass from Dade.

Stoichkov, the second-leading career scorer in Bulgarian soccer, had not played since leaving Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol eight months ago.

He was the second big-name European player to sign with Major League Soccer this season. Germany's Lothar Matthaeus joined the New York-New Jersey MetroStars.

"For me everything in life is new right now -- new league, new country, everything," Stoichkov said. "This seems like a good league and lots of players here have good experience. The U.S. had a good World Cup in 1994 and now has an improving league."


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