The Los Angeles Galaxy is returning to the scene of the grime.

That would be Foxboro, Mass., where, in the mud and driving rain of a late October afternoon in 1996, it was robbed of Major League Soccer's championship by two late goals from D.C. United.

Now, it's going back. This time, Galaxy players say, they intend to collect the trophy.

Coach Sigi Schmid's team earned a chance to win MLS Cup '99 when it played a near-flawless game Thursday night to defeat the Dallas Burn, 3-1, in front of a loud and enthusiastic crowd of 25,703 at the Rose Bowl.

The championship that escaped it three years ago in a 3-2 loss to D.C. United is now only 90 minutes away. The Galaxy, winner of the Western Conference title, will play the winner of Saturday afternoon's Eastern Conference finale at RFK Stadium between the Columbus Crew and D.C. United. The title game is Nov. 21 at Foxboro Stadium.

Greg Vanney got the Galaxy off to a fast start with a goal in the second minute. Carlos Hermosillo added another in the 20th minute, and Mauricio Cienfuegos applied the coup de grace in the 68th minute. Jason Kreis scored for the Burn on a penalty kick with 1 minute 5 seconds to play, but all that served was to prevent MLS's regular season scoring champion from being shut out in the playoffs.

Los Angeles lost to the eventual champion Chicago Fire in last season's conference final.

"The thing to remember is, it's not over yet," Galaxy captain Robin Fraser said. "This is merely a step along the way."