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KANSAS CITY, Mo.
7:30 pm CT (FSN-NY)
It's another potential top-of-the-table in the heartland, as the Kansas City Wizards have a chance to take over the lead of the Western Conference against the Eastern Conference-leading MetroStars. The Wizards had a chance to take over the West at the weekend, but even though they extended their unbeaten run to nine games, still look upon their 2-2 draw with the leading Los Angeles Galaxy almost as a loss. The MetroStars guaranteed they'll lead the East at the All-Star break with their first win against Chicago in more than two years, running their unbeaten run to three games as Bob Bradley became the first MLS coach to reach the 100-win mark.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Steven Taylor; JAR (opposite): Ken Kaplan; 4th: Bronson Broockerd
MLS Career: 52 games; FC/gm: 33.9; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 9; pens: 20
Games involving Wizards: P13 W6 L5 T2; FC/gm: 34.6; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 0; pens: 5
Games involving MetroStars: P13 W5 L6 T2; FC/gm: 34.1; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 3; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Preki (L fractured fibula/L dislocated ankle); FW Igor Simutenkov (L torn Achilles tendon); PROBABLE: FW Josh Wolff (R knee inflammation); DF Vuk Rasovic (R knee bone bruise) ... METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); DF Craig Ziadie (L knee LCL sprain); MD Ricardo Clark (L quadriceps contusion); DOUBTFUL: MD Mark Lisi (L ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Diego Gutierrez (through July 28)
YELLOW PERIL: KC: Alex Zotinca (19 CP) ... MET: Ricardo Clark (18 CP); Amado Guevara (18 CP)
The clubs meet for the second time in three meetings this year, the first of two at Arrowhead Stadium. They'll conclude their season series there on Sept. 4.
The MetroStars won 1-0 on May 30 in the only meeting at Giants Stadium this season. The MetroStars finally broke down a stubborn Wizards defense, John Wolyniec diving to head home the rebound of an Eddie Gaven shot that came back off the face of the crossbar 17 minutes from time.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Tim Regan 89), Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi (Ricardo Clark 79), Eddie Gaven - Sergio Galvan Rey (Fabian Taylor 69), John Wolyniec
Here's the team Bob Gansler's sent out (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Diego Gutierrez - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Jack Jewsbury (Diego Walsh 77), Jose Burciaga Jr. (Francisco Gomez 85) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud (Matt Taylor 80).
Once again, Conrad needed medical attention during a match at Giants Stadium. During a midweek matinee last year - when temperatures on the field soared over the 120-degree mark - Conrad suffered heat exhaustion late in extra time and needed an IV. This year, he took an elbow under his right eye just before halftime, but returned to complete the match despite a bandage over a laceration.
It was the MetroStars first victory at home in the series since 2001, the two Giants Stadium encounters over the previous two seasons each ending in draws.
But Kansas City has won just twice in the last 10 encounters between the teams, though three of those matches have ended deadlocked.
The losing team hasn't scored more than one goal in the series for the past five seasons.
A year ago, each team won once, with their third meeting a draw. The Wizards won 2-1 in Kansas City on June 7 (Arnaud 11, Wolff 28 - Magee 17), before they played to a scoreless draw in oppressive heat at Giants Stadium in a midweek matinee on Aug. 13. Then on Sept. 6, the MetroStars traveled to Arrowhead Stadium and came away with a 2-1 victory (Preki 79 pen - Mathis 45, 59).
Joselito Vaca leads current MetroStars players with 2 goals, 3 assists against the Wizards - but none have come with Metro. Of current Metros, only Mark Lisi (1 goal, 1 assist), John Wolyniec (1 goal) and Mike Magee (1 goal) have scored against the Wizards. The Metro career leader v Kansas City is Clint Mathis (6 goals).
Preki leads the Wizards all-time scoring table against the MetroStars with 6 goals, 12 assists - all but one goal while with in Kansas City. Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 3 assists for his career v Metro - just 1 goal while with the Wizards. Chris Klein has 3 goals, 1 assist against Metro.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley vs. KC: P18 W13 L4 D1 ... Bob Gansler v MET: P14 W6 L5 T3
ALL-TIME (22 meetings): Wizards 10 wins (2 shootout), 30 goals ... MetroStars 9 wins (2 shootout), 26 goals ... 3 draws
AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM (12 meetings): Wizards 8 wins (2 shootout), 22 goals ... MetroStars 4 wins (1 shootout), 13 goals ... 0 draws
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The match between the clubs separated by just a point also in the MLS overall table had a playoff intensity from the start, each team also riding unbeaten streaks (the Galaxy also with five games without a loss).
But the game truly exploded into life when the Wizards scored twice in a three-minute span just before the hour, Davy Arnaud first finishing off a neat tic-tac-toe movement with a rolling shot from inside the area past Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman (57), then Jack Jewsbury ripping home a low blast from outside the area.
Yet it took just six minutes for the Galaxy to respond, Carlos Ruiz playing a perfect dummy on a Cobi Jones cross, Sasha Victorine left alone to coolly sweep it home.
Then after tempers had flared and threatened to boil over, in the fifth minute of stoppage time Andreas Herzog whipped in a rebound of a cleared corner, Tyrone Marshall sending a glancing header inside Tony Meola's far post to keep Los Angeles ahead in the West.
"We blew it ... We played the last three corner kicks like we were practicing at the beginning of the season," Meola said. "If we're going to win, if we expect to win a championship, we can't play like that."
Wizards head coach Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that defeated the Dallas Burn 1-0 the previous weekend. With both Nick Garcia and Shavar Thomas suspended, Taylor Graham came into the heart of the back four while Francisco Gomez came into the midfield, Jose Burciaga Jr. moving to left back.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Taylor Graham, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Francisco Gomez (Jack Jewsbury 54), Diego Gutierrez - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
"We missed an opportunity tonight," Gansler said. "Putting it on cruise control is not going to win us the game."
Despite the result - and the chance to still move into first place before the All-Star Game, Gansler wasn't concerned about the lost opportunity in the top-of-the-table clash. "With so many games in hand," he said. "(First place) is not a legitimate barometer right now. We want to get on top and we want to stay on top, but it doesn't matter if it's before the All-Star break."
The Wizards could be without striker Josh Wolff, whose knee has been steadily worsening over the past few weeks. "[I'm] probably [questionable for Wednesday] for now until we figure out what's wrong," Wolff said. "It swelled up a little bit. We'll wait to see what the photos say. If I can play with it, I'll play. If not, we'll see what we can do rehab-wise."
The Kansas City Wizards extended their unbeaten streak to nine games, but looked at their result Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium as two points lost, a late goal giving the Los Angeles Galaxy a 2-2 come-from-behind draw in the top-of-the-table clash. The Wizards still trail the Galaxy by a point in the Western Conference but have two games in hand, with 32 points from 18 matches.
The Fire looked as if they would continue their hex over the MetroStars when Chris Armas took advantage of a missed clearance by Eddie Gaven and poked the bouncing ball past Jonny Walker from close range to take the lead against the run of play (23).
But Gaven made amends when he was clipped on the edge of the area just before halftime, Amado Guevara converting a penalty for the third consecutive league match and for the fifth time in five attempts this season.
Then after the break, Mike Magee's wonderful pass out of midfield sent John Wolyniec free behind the Fire back three, and he made no mistake in looping a shot over Henry Ring for the 57th-minute match winner, the first time in 10 league contests (since June 2002) the Metros had defeated Chicago.
"It's a huge relief," said Wolyniec. "(Chicago) is one of our rivals and you can't let a team stay on top of you that long. We let it go on for too long and it's nice to finally put it behind us and start our own streak."
As well, it was the first time Bradley had ever defeated the club that he took to one MLS Cup and two U.S. Open Cup triumphs from 1998-2002, as the Fire saw their poor run of form extended.
"Now we're talking about something important," he said. "We have had a lot of hard games with them. I feel like we understand that you have to raise your level of competing in order to have a really good game with Chicago."
Bradley made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the Fire a week earlier at Soldier Field. Tenywa Bonseu made his first start since May 15, coming in right back for the injured Craig Ziadie, while Joselito Vaca and Mike Magee came into the lineup for Kenny Arena and the injured Ricardo Clark in midfield.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Tenywa Bonseu, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Tim Regan 86), Amado Guevara, Mike Magee, Eddie Gaven - John Wolyniec, Cornell Glen (Fabian Taylor 85)
Bradley had little feeling for becoming the first coach to reach the century mark in wins in MLS history. "The numbers mean nothing to me," Bradley said. "We are in the midst of a season. We're working like crazy to get a little better and get a little stronger mentally, and to know how to really be a team that can win a championship. So much goes into that every day between the coaches and players, but that's all you want the team to understand, and that's what counts and the rest really doesn't matter."
The MetroStars ran their modest unbeaten streak to three games after a three-game losing streak, ending more than two years of frustration against the Chicago Fire and giving head coach Bob Bradley his 100th career victory in a 2-1 victory at Giants Stadium on Saturday. The Metros extended their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points ahead of the Columbus Crew and D.C. United, now on 26 points from 18 matches.