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KANSAS CITY, Mo.
7:30 pm CT (HDNet)
A massive match for the makeup of the Western Conference awaits as the Kansas City Wizards and San Jose Earthquakes play the first of two matches between the clubs in the next three weeks. The Wizards ended the Earthquakes hopes of a first-ever U.S. Open Cup championship in their semifinal meeting just a few weeks ago, but the teams are separated just four points in the impossibly tight West, and every position from first to fifth in the division is still up for grabs.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Rick Eddy; JAR (opposite): Chip Reed; 4th: Ali Saheli
MLS Career: 2 games; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving Wizards: first game
Games involving Earthquakes: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Chris Klein (L knee torn ACL); MD Preki (L ankle surgery): QUESTIONABLE: GK Tony Meola (R Achilles tendon strain); PROBABLE: FW Igor Simutenkov (L hamstring strain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); FW Dwayne DeRosario (L groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jeff Agoos (back sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: KC: Diego Gutierrez (11 CP additional) ... SJ: Troy Dayak (18 CP)
The two clubs play in the third of four league meetings this season, the second of two in Kansas City, but they also met a U.S. Open Cup semifinal earlier this year. The season series concludes on Oct. 9 at Spartan Stadium.
Each team has won once with one draw this season, the Earthquakes winning in the last league meeting, but the Wizards rebounding to advance to their first U.S. Open Cup Final.
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.
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2) Tony Meola, Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Justin Detter 77), Jose Burciaga Jr. (Jack Jewsbury 64) - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Igor Simutenkov (Francisco Gomez 54) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane, Troy Dayak, Todd Dunivant - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Tighe Dombrowski 72), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Ching (Ian Russell 89), Landon Donovan
In their last meeting 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.
Here's Gansler's team: Bo Oshoniyi, Taylor Graham, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Igor Simutenkov (Preki 46) (Justin Detter 80), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Alex Zotinca, Josh Wolff (Jack Jewsbury 74), Davy Arnaud
Here's Kinnear's team: Jon Conway, Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane (Eddie Robinson 76), Todd Dunivant, Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Tighe Dombrowski 56), Richard Mulrooney, Dwayne De Rosario, Landon Donovan, Brian Ching (Arturo Alvarez 7) (Chris Brown 71).
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.
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.
Seventeen of the last 26 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: Bob Gansler v SJ: P21 W7 L9 T5 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. KC: P2 W1 L0 T1
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Wizards 13 wins (4 shootout), 40 goals ... Earthquakes 15 wins (3 shootout), 43 goals ... 5 draws
AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM (16 meetings): Wizards 9 wins (2 shootout), 25 goals ... Earthquakes 6 wins (2 shootout), 17 goals ... 1 draw
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Rapids were once again saved by goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who saved a potential late equalizer from the spot as the Wizards failed to hold onto the Western Conference lead for more than a week, the Rapids extending their home undefeated run to eight matches.
Josh Wolff gave the Wizards an 11th-minute lead from the penalty spot after Cannon tripped him up in the area after the Kansas City striker chased down a long ball played over the top, but Mark Chung equalized with a penalty after Jean-Philippe Peguero was bundled over in the box (24).
Jordan Cila then gave the home side the lead on the hour, coolly slotting home after being picked out by Chris Henderson completely unmarked in the heart of the area.
But 10 minutes from time Wolff was again tripped by Cannon after racing alone into the area, yet this time the Rapids goalkeeper denied the U.S. international, diving to his right to parry Wolff's shot. Kyle Beckerman capped the scoring two minutes into stoppage time, curling home a shot from the left side of the area.
"It's exciting as heck for the fans," Wizards coach Bob Gansler said. "Anyone can finish in first, and anyone can be fifth. We've been resilient before, and I trust we will be resilient again."
Gansler made two changes to the team that knocked off the MetroStars at home the previous Saturday, both in his midfield. Kerry Zavagnin returned from national team duty and came in with Matt Taylor, for Jack Jewsbury (who was still shaking off injury) and Francisco Gomez.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Francisco Gomez 46), Jose Burciaga Jr. - Taylor Graham (Diego Walsh 85), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Matt Taylor (Igor Simutenkov 65) - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff
Wolff has now hit for goals in four consecutive matches, the longest league goal-scoring streak of his career, all coming since he was left out of the starting lineup for the 2-1 loss at Columbus.
The Kansas City Wizards failed to consolidate their hold on the Western Conference leadership, losing the division lead and in the MLS overall table in a 3-1 loss away to the Colorado Rapids on Friday night. After the weekend, the Wizards were left tied for second place in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Galaxy on 38 points from 25 matches, one behind the Rapids, who have played one more game.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Another hard-fought California Clasico saw Steve Sampson given his first victory as a professional club coach, as the defending MLS champion lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
Sasha Victorine gave the home side the lead on 36 minutes. He potted the rebound of an Alejandro Moreno header from a pinpiont Andreas Herzog cross that rattled the woodwork, perfectly placed to knock the ball into the unguarded goal.
The Galaxy then doubled their lead with a quarter-hour left, Arturo Torres scoring his first MLS goal after being sent in by Peter Vagenas, slotting the ball inside Pat Onstad's right-hand post.
The Quakes pulled a goal back just two minutes with a thundering drive from Ronnie Ekelund from the top of the penalty area that crashed off the underside of the bar, just over the goal line and back out.
"This wasn't one of our better games and we didn't help ourselves with our play in the first 60 minutes. We were pressing once they went up 1-0 and that is what led to the second goal. We tried to get back in the game with Ronnie's goal, but it just wasn't enough tonight," Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear said.
With his quartet of national team campaigners back, Kinnear had close to a full first-choice team, making three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Columbus Crew at midweek. The U.S. national team strike partnership of Landon Donovan and Brian Ching came back into the side, along with Canadian international Pat Onstad in goal, as Chris Brown, Ian Russell and Jon Conway returned to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel (Chris Brown 76), Jeff Agoos, Troy Dayak, Todd Dunivant (Eddie Robinson 69) - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Ian Russell 66) - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching.
"I think as a team we pride ourselves on our possession game and tonight we didn't play the way we are capable of playing. We did not control the ball tonight like we wanted to," Kinnear said.
The San Jose Earthquakes lost for the second time in four days at the weekend, following a home loss to Columbus with a 2-1 loss away to the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Quakes still remained in fourth place in the Western Conference despite the defeat, on 34 points from 25 matches, two ahead of the last-place Dallas Burn, but four behind Los Angeles and Kansas City.