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Just a couple of weeks after the Kansas City Wizards torched the Dallas Burn for five goals at Arrowhead Stadium for the second consecutive season, the two Midwestern rivals conclude their season series at the Cotton Bowl. The home-standing Burn have lost just once in their seven games - the aforementioned drubbing by City. The Wizards meanwhile are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak - yet are still three points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference, setting the pace with the league's best record.
REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Kevin Terry
MLS Career: first game
Games involving Burn: first game
Games involving Wizards: first game
INJURY REPORT: DALLAS BURN - OUT: FW Bobby Rhine (R knee MCL sprain); GK Scott Garlick (R ankle sprain); FW Eddie Johnson (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: MD Oscar Pareja (groin strain) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Preki (L fractured fibula/L dislocated ankle); FW Igor Simutenkov (L torn Achilles tendon)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: DAL: Chris Gbandi (20 CP) ... KC: Diego Gutierrez (20 CP)
The two clubs meet for the fourth and final time this season, the home team winning every game in the season series thus far, which will conclude before the All-Star break.
The Wizards hung a 5-1 scoreline on the Dallas Burn for the second consecutive season at Arrowhead Stadium in their last meeting on July 3. Davy Arnaud hit for his first career hat trick as the Kansas City Wizards scored four goals over the final 18 minutes against a 10-man Dallas Burn.
Arnaud rifled the Wizards into the lead in the 22nd minute, finishing off a lethal counterattack from just inside the area. Jason Kreis then scored the 90th goal of his MLS career, neatly scoring after a turn left his marker in his wake to equalize for the visitors.
But then just before the half Kreis was sent off by referee Richard Heron after appearing to elbow Kerry Zavagnin, and though it took a while, the Wizards took full advantage. Chris Klein hit the back of the net with a 20-yard rocket (72), then three minutes later Josh Wolff headed home to finish off a goalmouth scramble.
Arnaud then got the Wizards' fourth in the 79th minute, dribbling around a pair of defenders at the top of the box before slipping a low past Burn 'keeper Jeff Cassar, before finishing off his night with another fine low strike off a solo after taking advantage of a poor clearance (90).
Here's the team Bob Gansler ran out (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca (Matt Taylor 64), Jimmy Conrad, Taylor Graham, Nick Garcia - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Walsh (Francisco Gomez 46), Jose Burciaga Jr. (Jack Jewsbury 84) - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff.
Here's Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Philip Salyer (Brad Davis 76), Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Ronnie O'Brien, Carey Talley, Simo Valakari (Ramon Nunez 84), Eric Quill (Milton Reyes 67) - Jason Kreis, Toni Nhleko.
The Wizards claimed a 2-0 victory at Arrowhead Stadium on May 22, the Burn falling to a third consecutive defeat. Jack Jewsbury scored his first professional goal, stabbing home a Josh Wolff cross in the 60th minute to give the Wizards the lead, then seven minutes later, Wolff pounced on a deflected cross to drive home a shot from just inside the area to double the home side's lead.
The Burn won the first meeting of the season April 24 at the Cotton Bowl as Toni Nhleko's 17th-minute goal provided the victory through another lightning-quick counter from the home side, collecting a long, searching ball before crossing in front of goal and rolling a shot back across which slipped in behind two defenders and Wizards 'keeper Tony Meola.
A year ago, the Wizards won three of the four meetings, splitting the two games at the Burn home of Dragon Stadium in Southlake. Kansas City won 3-1 on May 10 in Texas (Kreis 53 - Quill 12, Brown 15, Klein 66), then 5-1 at home on July 12 (Brunt 45; Simutenkov 53, 56; Quill 68; Armstrong 74 - Cerritos 63).
The Burn then claimed their first points in two years in the series on Aug. 16 with a 3-2 win at home (Vaca 30, Davis 54 pen, Johnson 71 - Preki 26 pen, Gomez 77), but the Wizards won 1-0 at home in the final meeting on Oct. 18 (Conrad 15).
The Burn have now won two of the last three meetings in the series after going six matches without a victory (three draws followed by three losses). The Dallas win a year ago was their first in the series since a 3-0 win at home on Aug. 25, 2001. In 2002, the teams played to draws in their first three meetings before the Wizards claimed a 1-0 victory in Dallas.
Dallas hasn't won in regulation time in Kansas City since Sept. 19, 1999, a span of eight matches. Their one victory since came via shootout (1999), while they also played to three draws.
Preki leads the Wizards all-time records against Dallas with 6 goals, 11 assists for his career - 5 goals, 9 assists while in Kansas City. Josh Wolff has 8 goals, 3 assists for his career v Dallas - now 2 goals, 2 assists while with K.C. Chris Klein and Davy Arnaud have 3 goals each v Dallas (Klein with 1 assist), while Igor Simutenkov has 2 goals v Dallas and Diego Gutierrez has 1 goal, 5 assists.
Jason Kreis is by far the Burn's all-time leader against Kansas City, with 14 goals, 7 assists. Among active Burn players only Eric Quill and Carey Talley have more than one goal v Kansas City (2 goals each) - but none came while with Dallas.
Coaches record: Bob Gansler v DAL: P18 W8 L6 T4 ... Colin Clarke vs. KC: P4 W1 L3 D0
ALL-TIME (31 meetings): Burn 13 wins (1 shootout), 49 goals ... Wizards 14 wins (2 shootout), 43 goals ... 4 draws
AT DALLAS (15 meetings): Burn 8 wins (0 shootout), 31 goals ... Wizards 6 wins (2 shootout), 14 goals ... 1 draw
Both 'keepers made remarkable saves to keep their opponents off the scoreboard: the Burn's Jeff Cassar diving for a stunning stop to keep out Jeff Cunningham's point-blank first-timer in the first half, then the Crew's Jon Busch nearly beaten by a Toni Nhleko flick header only to sweep his leg behind to clear.
"Good goalkeeping, huh?" Burn coach Colin Clarke said. "It's always a battle with them every time out. ... It's always hard, it's always tough, and they always work very hard."
Clarke made two changes from the team that defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Spartan Stadium at midweek. Cory Gibbs was away on U.S. national team duty, meaning Matt Behncke came back into the team in central defense. Jason Kreis returned from suspension to play up top as Simo Valakari was suspended for caution point accumulation.
Here's Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Philip Salyer (Ramon Nuñez 79), Matt Behncke, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Milton Reyes, Brad Davis (Oscar Pareja 55), Ronnie O'Brien, Eric Quill (Jason Thompson 91) - Jason Kreis, Toni Nhleko.
"We definitely missed some zip in the middle," said Clarke. "I think that comes down to tiredness as much as anything."
The Burn could be close to getting two regulars from the start of the season back for duty. Goalkeeper Scott Garlick and forward Bobby Rhine could both be available for the July 24 match v D.C. United.
Cassar was named MLS Honda Player of the Week for his performance in the two matches, in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association.
"I'm just happy to be playing and happy that the team is doing well," said Cassar. "We're starting to come together as a team very nicely and I'm glad that I'm able to be a part of that. I feel good right now and I feel sharp. Our goalkeeper coach (Jan Van Beveren) has me feeling confident and I'm just trying to keep it rolling."
The Dallas Burn kept their recent run of form going, though they ended up settling for a share of the spoils in a scoreless draw against the Columbus Crew at home on Saturday evening. The Burn remain in fourth place in the Western Conference with 20 points from 15 matches, a point behind third-place Colorado but 10 points adrift of table-topping Los Angeles Galaxy.
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Wizards had briefly taken over top spot in the West with the victory, before the Galaxy result later in the evening.
Matt Taylor claimed the game's only goal in the 17th minute when he provided the final touch over the line after Davy Arnaud stripped the ball in midfield and raced into the area before letting go with a rolling shot that eluded United 'keeper Troy Perkins.
"I was trying to walk it in," said Taylor, who scored his third MLS goal. "If I don't hit it and something happens, like it bounces off the post, then my game is over."
Wizards coach Bob Gansler made five changes to the team that defeated the Burn 5-1 the previous weekend at home. Kerry Zavagnin and Josh Wolff were on U.S. national team duty, meaning Matt Taylor started in attack with Davy Arnaud, and Jack Jewsbury returned to the holding midfield role.
Shavar Thomas returned from injury, coming for Taylor Graham, while Diego Gutierrez came back from suspension and Francisco Gomez came back into the team, preferred to Alex Zotinca and Diego Walsh.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Jack Jewsbury (Taylor Graham 83), Francisco Gomez (Alex Zotinca 58) - Davy Arnaud, Matt Taylor (Justin Detter 67)
"It was a different tale from last week," Gansler said. "Last week we won on the offensive end, this week we won on the defensive end. We wanted to be more in charge than we were. We'll take the three points anyway. It's good that we can win a tight game when an opportunistic goal will do."
The Kansas City Wizards kept pace with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference, scoring the only goal of the game to claim a 1-0 victory against D.C. United on Saturday evening at a steamy Arrowhead Stadium. The Wizards stayed within two points of the pace-setting Galaxy with 28 points from 16 matches, now seven points ahead of third-place Colorado Rapids.