German soccer legend Lothar Matthaus has signed a limited contract with Major League Soccer to play for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

It means Matthaus, 38, can join the MetroStars when he likes but he likely will return to German champion Bayern Munich next season, which begins in August. No other details were available. The MetroStars (4-7) play Colorado Saturday at Giants Stadium.

Matthaus, who excelled for Germany in a 6-1 victory over Moldova in a 2000 European Championship qualifier Saturday, explained how the new contract did not detract from his commitment to Bayern.

"I could have broken my contract if I had thumped my fist on the table but I didn't want to because I have a sense of my responsibilities," he told AFP.

Matthaus has played for Germany for 19 years and in five World Cup tournaments. . . .

Clint Mathis scored in the 64th minute and Kevin Hartman made three saves for his league-leading sixth shutout as the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the visiting Kansas City Wizards, 1-0, in a matchup of MLS's lowest-scoring teams.


Lageman Retires

Former Virginia all-American Jeff Lageman, a key component in making the Jacksonville Jaguars competitive early in their existence, said he will retire after 10 seasons.

Before the 1998 season, the defensive lineman signed a one-year contract. On the first play of the season, however, he tore his biceps and was lost for the year. Before coming to Jacksonville, Lageman spent six seasons with the New York Jets.


Gotti Triumphs

Ivan Gotti won his second Tour of Italy in three years yesterday, one day after leader Marco Pantani was banned from the prestigious race.

Gotti, a 30-year-old Italian, led his closest rivals by more than three minutes in the final standings. Paolo Savoldelli finished second and Gilberto Simoni was third.

Fabrizio Guidi, one of Gotti's teammates on Team Polti, edged countryman Dario Pieri to win the 22nd and final stage--a 105.4-mile ride on a flat course from Boario Terme to downtown Milan.

Pantani held a comfortable lead before being banned following an anti-doping test.


Undisputed Champion

Roy Jones Jr. made it look so easy, dancing into the ring then around Reggie Johnson, taunting him, dominating him from start to finish. He even took time to talk to Michael Jordan, who sat ringside in Biloxi, Miss.

"I hope everyone had as good a time as I did, because I had a damn good time," Jones said Saturday night after becoming the first undisputed light heavyweight champion in 14 years.

Jones's speed and quickness gave him a huge edge and a huge victory. He won every round on his way to a unanimous decision. Every judge had it 120-106 in favor of Jones, who added Johnson's IBF title to the WBA and WBC crowns he already had.

Track and Field

Triumph Amid Trouble

Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and long-distance rival Daniel Komen of Kenya both turned in year's best marks at the financially troubled Stuttgart international meet. Gebrselassie ran the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes 33.73 seconds, while Komen captured the 3,000 in 7:32.72 as cold weather kept many competitors from turning in top times. The meet drew 15,000 spectators, less than the 20,000 organizers said were needed to keep the event alive for next year.


Yale Beats Harvard

Yale's senior-dominated crew rowed to a comeback victory in the 134th running of the Yale-Harvard Regatta in New London, Conn., finishing six seconds ahead in the nation's oldest intercollegiate athletic event.

CAPTION: Ivan Gotti celebrates his second Tour of Italy championship in three years, coasting to a victory of more than three minutes at the conclusion in Milan.