SAN JOSE, Calif.
7 pm PT (MetroSports)
It's a virtual must-win situation for the San Jose Earthquakes - and it comes with three front-line players away on international duty. The defending MLS champion are currently in the playoff picture, but in order to avoid adding pressure to an already tricky trip to the Cotton Bowl next weekend, they needed to claim the full three points against the Western Conference leaders. The Kansas City Wizards come in having already clinched a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but still need a point to ensure home-field advantage throughout the postseason - and now trail in the race for the Supporters Shield by two points.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Ken Kaplan; 4th: Terry Vaughn
MLS Career: 23 games; FC/gm: 32.3; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 2; pens: 8
Games involving Earthquakes: P6 W3 L1 T2; FC/gm: 29.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Wizards: P4 W2 L1 T1; FC/gm: 32.3; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 1; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L LCL sprain); PROBABLE: Brian Ching (L quadriceps strain) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Chris Klein (L knee torn ACL); MD Preki (L ankle surgery): GK Tony Meola (R Achilles tendon strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Davy Arnaud (L MCL sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: SJ: Landon Donovan (USA, Oct. 9 v El Salvador); Pat Onstad, Dwayne DeRosario (Canada, Oct. 9 v Honduras) ... KC: Kerry Zavagnin, Josh Wolff (USA, Oct. 9 v El Salvador)
SUSPENDED: SJ: Troy Dayak (through Oct. 9)
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Landon Donovan (16 CP); Brian Mullan (16 CP)
The two clubs play in their final league meeting this season, the second of two in San Jose. Each team has won a league encounter this season, with one draw, but the Wizards claimed victory in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal on the way to their first Dewar Trophy.
Diego Gutierrez scored a remarkable goal seven minutes from time for the match-winner to give the Wizards a 1-0 victory in the last league meeting on Sept. 18 at Arrowhead Stadium.
He started the play with a pass from well inside his own half, finding Davy Arnaud on the left touchline, who weaved his way forward before sliding a small square pass inside the restraining arc that Gutierrez sidefooted home past Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad and off the inside of his left-hand post.
The Wizards were saved in the first half in a wild sequence that saw Kerry Zavagnin twice clear balls off the line in short order from Troy Dayak, first turning aside his sharp downward header on a corner, then parrying the rebound stabbed goalward.
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Taylor Graham (Francisco Gomez 78), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Jack Jewsbury, Kerry Zavagnin, Alex Zotinca, Diego Gutierrez - Josh Wolff (Justin Detter 89), Davy Arnaud
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane (Chris Brown 85), Troy Dayak, Jeff Agoos (Todd Dunivant 87) - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Ian Russell 87), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching
Landon Donovan put on a masterclass display, scoring twice to lead the Quakes to a 2-0 victory on Aug. 14 at Arrowhead Stadium in their second league game.
Donovan sent home a glancing near-post header of a Brian Mullan cross to give the Earthquakes a 27th-minute lead, then doubled it just before the hour in fine fashion, running onto a through ball from Brian Ching and beating a couple of defenders on the run before slotting home past Tony Meola (59).
The Wizards saw Igor Simutenkov - making his first start of the season - rattle the woodwork on two occasions, and then after the match lost influential midfielder Chris Klein for the remainder of the campaign with a knee injury suffered late in the match.
In their first meeting, the Wizards hung on for a 1-1 draw with the Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium on June 26. A terrific goal from Jose Burciaga Jr. just before the halftime break gave the Wizards the lead, ripping a drive from just inside the area on a pass from Chris Klein that threatened to rip the net off its moorings as it flashed past Pat Onstad.
But the Quakes pulled level 11 minutes from time when Richard Mulrooney hammered a drive from outside the area that sailed past Tony Meola's dive and under the crossbar.
On Aug. 24, the Wizards reached the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final for the first time in club history, knocking off the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards in the semifinal at Overland Park, Kan. as Igor Simutenkov converted a penalty literally on the stroke of halftime.
Josh Wolff earned the spot kick as he strove to skip through a crowded penalty area, Quakes defender Ryan Cochrane pulling down the U.S. international as referee Kevin Terry eventually pointed to the spot.
Last year, the Earthquakes didn't lose in the season series - which also included a dramatic victory in the Western Conference championship. The first two meetings ended in draws, a 1-1 result on April 19 in San Jose highlighted by a bizarre own goal (Mullan 81 - Onstad og 74), then a scoreless draw in Silicon Valley on June 28.
The Quakes then won both games at Arrowhead Stadium, a 1-0 victory on Aug. 8 (Donovan 23), then a resounding 4-1 victory on Sept. 20 behind a Donovan hat trick (Donovan 26, 70, 90; Robinson 54 - Arnaud 59).
The teams then met Nov. 15 in San Jose for a place in the 2003 MLS Cup Final, the Quakes coming back to book passage in extra time as Brian Mullan equalized seven minutes before the final whistle, then Landon Donovan scoring near the end of the overtime period (Lagos 61, Mullan 83, Donovan 117 - Simutenkov 57, Klein 72).
Kansas City hasn't won in San Jose in seven league meetings - eight in all competitions - and just once over the past six seasons. That victory was a 3-0 win on Aug. 16, 2000, the final meeting between the teams that season.
Eighteen of the last 27 league meetings between the clubs have involved shutouts - three of those scoreless draws. The losing team hasn't scored more than a single goal over that six-year stretch.
Landon Donovan leads current Earthquakes players with 6 goals, 1 assist against the Wizards - all of those goals scored since last season. Dwayne DeRosario and Eddie Robinson have also scored 2 goals v Kansas City - DeRosario also with 4 assists. Brian Mullan has 3 goals, 2 assists against the Wizards, 1 goal, 1 assist while with the Earthquakes.
Preki leads the Wizards all-time chart against the Quakes with 11 goals, 9 assists - all but one goal while with Kansas City. Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 2 assists for his career against San Jose, but none while with the Wizards. Just five other current Wizards have goals v San Jose - all with one each (Chris Klein, Francisco Gomez, Davy Arnaud, Igor Simutenkov, Jose Burciaga Jr.).
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. KC: P3 W1 L1 T1 ... Bob Gansler v SJ: P22 W8 L9 T5
ALL-TIME (35 meetings): Earthquakes 16 wins (3 shootout), 45 goals ... Wizards 14 wins (4 shootout), 41 goals ... 5 draws
AT SPARTAN STADIUM (17 meetings): Earthquakes 9 wins (1 shootout), 26 goals ... Wizards 4 wins (2 shootout), 15 goals ... 4 draws
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Jean-Philippe Peguero gave the Rapids the lead on 14 minutes when he rifled home a Matt Crawford cross from the right corner, then Colorado 'keeper Joe Cannon maintained the advantage just before the halftime break when he parried a Landon Donovan penalty after two became tangled in the area.
But the Earthquakes claimed sole possession of fourth place in the West with a leveler eight minutes from time, taking advantage of a quick restart following a substitution for Dwayne De Rosario to get free behind the Rapids rearguard and poke home a long ball from Ryan Cochrane.
"It was a big goal for us. We were pushing forward and creating chances," Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "I thought we came out well in the second half and I felt like it was only a matter of time. I feel good for the guys because we had a difficult first half, but we didn't give up and we came out in the second half and earned a well-deserved point."
Kinnear made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw the previous weekend at Spartan Stadium. Eddie Robinson moved to right back as Ryan Cochrane returned to the first team, Craig Waibel out through injury.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Eddie Robinson (Todd Dunivant 46), Ryan Cochrane, Troy Dayak, Jeff Agoos - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Ian Russell 67), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Chris Brown (Dwayne De Rosario 46), Landon Donovan
"Dwayne is always ready and gave us a solid 45 minutes. We brought Ian [Russell] on and moved Landon [Donovan] back to midfield just to try to push forward and give them a different look. I knew that we would continue to work hard and we did," Kinnear said.
Although the Earthquakes have taken just two of a possible 15 points since the start of September, they looked at the late leveler almost as a victory.
"Words can't describe it. We have given up some late goals and teams have been doing it against us and it hurts, so to be on the other end of that is a good feeling," said Mulrooney. "We needed that goal, we needed something, and just that one goal and one point can be the difference between making the playoffs and staying home.''
Robinson was forced off at halftime with a sprained knee ligament, and his return to action this season is over, as he is lost for the remainder of the campaign. Robinson suffered a hamstring rupture in the fourth game of the season (April 24), able to return on Aug. 22 though he was expected to be lost for the season with the original injury.
The San Jose Earthquakes saw their winless streak extend to five matches, but still managed to take sole possession of fourth place and the final playoff-paying place in the Western Conference, a late equalizer giving them a 1-1 draw away to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The Earthquakes are now on 36 points from 28 matches, one ahead of the Dallas Burn in for the final postseason berth available in the West, and with a victory against the Wizards and a Dallas loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the defending MLS Cup champion will secure the final spot.
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Galaxy dominated proceedings from the start, winning an early penalty kick, but Kansas City 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi turned aside Carlos Ruiz's 16th-minute attempt.
The home side finally went ahead through Tyrone Marshall after 65 minutes, when he was left unmarked at the near post to nod home a corner from close range. But the Wizards drew level in the 89th minute thanks to an own goal, Sasha Victorine turning a rolling Josh Wolff cross from the left flank into his own net.
Wizards head coach Bob Gansler made no changes to the team that claimed a 1-0 home victory against the Colorado Rapids the previous weekend at home.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Alex Zotinca (Matt Taylor 81), Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Jack Jewsbury (Taylor Graham 72), Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Diego Walsh (Igor Simutenkov 72) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
"We're a resilient bunch and we don't panic, even when we're getting outplayed," Gansler said. "The guys fought back and I think they deserved a goal."
While the Wizards defending has been resolute throughout the season, Gansler made a fundamental change three weeks ago when Nick Garcia was moved inside to partner Jimmy Conrad in central defense, and the Wizards allowed just one goal in those games. The Wizards have won four and drawn one in the six games where Garcia has played as a center back, allowing just two goals in the five positive results.
"We're quicker (with Garcia in the middle)," said Gansler. "The main thing that Nicky brings that Shavar (Thomas) and Taylor (Graham) don't when they're playing there is quickness. He's also more experienced, and he's playing well."
Over their last eight matches in all competitions (six league, two U.S. Open Cup), the Wizards have scored just one goal in each of those games - yet won five of those games and tied one. Obviously, all five victories came by 1-0 scorelines.
"I'm pleased with the way the team is playing," Gansler said. "As you go into this stretch run, getting ready for the playoffs, we're finding ways to come out on top. I think our run through the four stages of the Open Cup (where the Wizards outscored opponents 10-1) really helped us find a way to win.
The Kansas City Wizards drew ever closer to claiming the top seed in the Western Conference, a late own goal giving them a 1-1 draw away to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday evening and extending their unbeaten streak to three matches. The Wizards guaranteed they will have home-field advantage for the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, and with two more points won or lost by L.A., will guarantee the road to the MLS Cup will go through Arrowhead Stadium, now with 45 points from 28 matches.
The Kansas City Wizards have clinched a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They can win the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a victory against the Earthquakes OR a Los Angeles Galaxy loss or tie.
The San Jose Earthquakes can claim the final available playoff spot in the Western Conference with a victory against the Wizards AND a Dallas Burn loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Following are the tiebreaking procedures if teams are level in the standings:
a. Head-to-head competition against all other teams equal in points, based on highest points-per-game average.
b. Overall team goal differential.
c. Total goals scored.
d-f. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season road games only.
g-i. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season home games only.
j. Fewest disciplinary points
k. Coin flip.
As of Oct. 6, here is how the MLS Cup playoffs would have looked:
SERIES A: (E1) Columbus vs. (E4) Chicago
SERIES B: (E2) MetroStars vs. (E3) D.C. United
SERIES C: (W1) Kansas City vs. (W4) San Jose
SERIES D: (W2) Los Angeles vs. (W3) Colorado
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of CLB/CHI vs. Winner of MET/DC
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of KC/SJ vs. Winner of COL/LA
MLS CUP 2004: Winners of Conference Championship Games
Series A - D played under home-and-home, total goals format ... If teams tied on aggregate, 30-minute, golden-goal overtime period follows, then followed by penalty kicks (if necessary) to determine Series winner ... Higher seed holds home-field advantage for Game 2 of Series ... Conference Championship Games and MLS Cup, if tied after 90 minutes, determined by 30-minute, golden-goal overtime ... If neither team scores during that time, the series will be decided via penalty kick shootout held according to FIFA regulations
Series A-D - Game One
Weekend of Friday, October 22 - Sunday, October 24 @ LOWER-SEED home site
Series A-D - Game Two (+ 30-minute golden-goal period, if tied on aggregate goals)
Weekend of Friday, October 29 - Friday, October 31 @ HIGHER-SEED home site
Eastern Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
Western Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
MLS Cup 2004 / Sun., Nov. 14 - ABC / 3:30 PM ET - The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.