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The New England Revolution have survived a month of being without their host of U.S. national team stars still in first place in the Eastern Conference. They've seen their form dip in recent weeks, but elimination in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup could be a boon as they chase the top seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs. For the Kansas City Wizards, last year's MLS Cup Finalist are in a real dogfight in the heart of the East race as they, D.C. United and the MetroStars are separated by just a single point in what could be a fight between three teams for the final two places.
REFEREE: Ben Jones. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): C.J. Morgante; 4th: Nik Bratsis
MLS Career: 4 games; FC/gm: 32.8; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 2
Games involving Revolution: P1 W0 L0 T1; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving Wizards: first game
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (R ankle sprain) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - PROBABLE: MF Diego Walsh (R athletic pubalgia surgery)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: None
SUSPENDED: NE: Jay Heaps (21 CP; through Aug. 6) ... KC: Nick Garcia (through Aug. 10)
WARNINGS: NE: Marshall Leonard (19 CP)
This is the third of four meetings between the clubs this season, their second meeting this year at Gillette Stadium. They will conclude the season series on Oct. 8 at Arrowhead Stadium.
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): Revolution 8 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... Wizards 12 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals ... 3 draws
AT FOXBOROUGH (12 meetings): Revolution 4 wins (1 shootout), 17 goals ... Wizards 6 wins (0 shootout), 22 goals ... 2 draws
The Revolution have the edge in the series thus far, winning in Kansas City in the last meeting after playing to a 1-1 draw in Foxborough in the first encounter as they played a home-and-home set in June.
The June 4 encounter at Gillette Stadium ended with honors even, though the Revolution equaled the second-longest unbeaten streak to start a season in the 1-1 result.
The Revolution took the lead after 17 minutes when Bermuda international Khano Smith scored his first MLS goal, turning home a corner driven into the heart of the goal area.
But after the break the Wizards pulled level when Sasha Victorine headed home a Jose Burciaga Jr. long ball played into the box from a quick restart (51). It was the first goal allowed by the Revolution at home this season, and their first in nearly nine hours of league play (534 minutes, dating back to Oct. 16, 2004).
The following weekend got a fair amount of good fortune in seeing their unbeaten run extended to 11 games to begin the season, one shy of equaling the league record with a 2-0 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
New England took the lead after just eight minutes through an own goal, a quick restart finding Shalrie Joseph on the left, whose cross into the box was deflected past his own 'keeper by a back-tracking Sasha Victorine.
Then four minutes after the interval, the Revolution struck again, Pat Noonan finishing off a lovely tic-tac-toe passing movement when he was sent alone into the area before chipping an on-rushing Bo Oshoniyi in the Wizards goal.
Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis saw his best friend come to his defense. After making a remarkable save on Josh Wolff in the first half, he twice saw shots come back off the woodwork in the second, a neat volley on the turn from Davy Arnaud that hit the upright and a fierce long-range drive from Jose Burciaga Jr. that crashed off the face of the bar.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi -Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Jack Jewsbury 74), Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine (Ryan Pore 83), Diego Gutierrez, Alex Zotinca (Kerry Zavagnin 46) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (James Riley 77) - Jose Cancela (Connally Edozien 88) - Pat Noonan, Khano Smith (Andy Dorman 68).
Last year, the Wizards claimed victories in two of the three meetings with the Revolution claiming the third as neither team could win at home. In the only game in Kansas City, the Revolution came back to claim a wild 3-2 victory as Pat Noonan hit for a hat trick (Wolff 33, Arnaud 37 - Noonan 16, 86, 90)
The clubs then met twice at Gillette Stadium, the Wizards winning both. They won 3-1 on June 19 (Dempsey 74 - Arnaud 41, Taylor 70, 90), then grabbed a 2-1 victory on Aug. 21 (Twellman 11 - Wolff 39, Arnaud 66)
The Revolution have won just twice in the series in the last five-plus seasons. Their victory last year snapped a seven-match winless streak in the series dating back to July 19, 2000 - which was the last of a three-game winning streak in the series.
The Wizards won five consecutive matches in the series from that 2000 win through the 2002 season. In the last 10 matches in the series, they've taken the full three points on seven occasions, with two draws.
Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. KC: P9 W2 L4 D3... Bob Gansler v NE: P14 W7 L4 D3
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The Revolution and Galaxy shared the points in an entertaining draw in their final match before the midsummer break, the goals coming 10 minutes apart in the first half.
The Galaxy took the lead after 16 minutes, Herculez Gomez scoring his fourth goal in as many games. Landon Donovan split the defense with his through ball to find Gomez, and he raced into the area before widely rounding Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis and rolling the ball home.
The Revolution drew level in the 26th minute from a Shalrie Joseph penalty. A cross was whipped in from the right, and as Ugo Ihemelu bent forward to head clear, the ball struck his hand and referee Marcel Yonan pointed to the spot. Joseph, captain for the night, struck his penalty to the lower left-hand corner just past the dive of Kevin Hartman.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Chivas USA the previous Friday at The Home Depot Center. Marshall Leonard came back into the team, for the suspended Joe Franchino, while Clint Dempsey returned from national team duty, coming in up top for Khano Smith.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - James Riley, Andy Dorman (Connally Edozien 77), Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (Ryan Latham 64) - Jose Cancela - Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey
"If you consider the record that L.A. had away, then we were obviously looking to get a win. The first half clearly they were sitting in. It was tough for us, because we didn't have a lot of places to go. We didn't help ourselves in the final. We passed the ball around pretty well - maybe we could have passed it a little bit quicker, which we talked about at halftime. We never really created enough. We were relying on stuff from the middle, which was clogged up," Nicol said.
The New England Revolution enter the second half of the campaign tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference with 36 points from 19 matches, level with the Chicago Fire though they have two matches in hand. Both are seven points ahead of the third-place tie between D.C. United and Kansas City. In their last match before the All-Star break, the Revolution saw their recent form dip to just one win in five matches after a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
While they had returned from national team duty, Nicol didn't have Steve Ralston or Pat Noonan available for the Galaxy match. Ralston had concussion symptoms and Noonan an ankle injury suffered during the USA's drive to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title.
"It's very frustrating. Last week, we're thinking we'll get some fresh .legs and some guys back. To not have them is disappointing," Nicol said. "But the guys we have should be able to do better. I'm disappointed that we haven't won a game tonight."
Neither played in the Revolution's Open Cup match against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday. "We want to give Rallie an extra bit of time to recover," Nicol said, "and, come Thursday, we'll get him heading some balls, make sure he's OK, and then go from there."
On Wednesday, the Revolution were dumped out of the Open Cup as the Chicago Fire scored two goals in extra time as they advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass.
Andy Herron pounded home a volley to give the Fire an 18th-minute lead, but the Revolution pulled level just four minutes later as Shalrie Joseph headed home a Jose Cancela cross.
The Fire then claimed the tie with two goals in four minutes in extra time. C.J. Brown knocked home a deflected corner kick (96) before Herron completed his brace, picking off a weak back pass before finishing calmly. Andy Dorman scored in the final minute from long range to complete the final scoreline.
Here's Nicol's team: Doug Warren, Avery John, Jay Heaps, James Riley, Joe Franchino (Luke Vercollone 59), Jose Cancela, Shalrie Joseph (Jeff Larentowicz 45), Gilberto Flores, Ryan Latham (Andy Dorman 45), Connally Edozien, Taylor Twellman (Khano Smith 45)
Despite playing the forced hand of a weakened side and exploring his depth in an important match, Nicol was unhappy with the result.
"We had to put out a team to respect the competition and be competitive," said Nicol. "I think we've done that [tonight]. We've taken a full-strength Chicago side to extra time ... A lot of things we saw out there, we already knew. We're disappointed. We were missing guys, and we made some changes. We knew it would be tough."
Injuries and scheduling predicated the moves for Nicol, as his side faces four matches in 12 days beginning with this weekend's encounter with the Wizards. Real Salt Lake visits on Aug. 10, before the Revs head on the road to face FC Dallas (Aug. 13) and Colorado (Aug. 17).
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Knox Cameron scored his first two MLS goals - literally on each side of halftime - to give Robert Warzycha a second consecutive victory and extend his unbeaten run to three games since taking over as the Columbus head coach.
In the final minute of the first half, Simon Elliott found Kyle Martino on the right flank, and after rounding a defender, he drove a ball to Cornell Glen at the back post. Glen couldn't handle it, but it fell to Cameron who blasted the ball into the back of the net.
Then almost directly off the second half kickoff, Martino found Henderson who passed the ball to Elliott. He one-timed the ball back to Martino, who served a low ball to Cameron at the near post. The University of Michigan product directed the ball into net to extend the Crew's lead with the half barely a half-minute old.
Wizards boss Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United the previous Wednesday at Arrowhead Stadium, also changing his tactical scheme again. Jose Burciaga Jr. came back into the team for Brian Roberts, while Ryan Pore also returned to the first team, Davy Arnaud moving to a wide midfield role as Jack Jewsbury returned to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Shavar Thomas (Preki 65), Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Diego Gutierrez - Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Davy Arnaud (Jack Jewsbury 76) - Ryan Pore (Khari Stephenson 46), Scott Sealy
"They scored at absolutely the right time of the ball game in order give them the lift going into halftime. For sure we had the better of the game for the first 15-20 minutes. They didn't have a shot for the first 20 minutes or so, but possession is sometimes a fool's paradise. You have to turn that possession into chances and you have to realize some of those chances," Gansler said.
The Kansas City Wizards enter the second half of the campaign tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with 29 points from 20 matches, tied with D.C. United though they've played one more contest and seven points behind the first-place tie between Chicago and New England. The Wizards went into the All-Star break after a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on July 23, seeing their modest three-game unbeaten streak snapped.
The Wizards will be without center back Nick Garcia for the first two matches after the All-Star break, after he was suspended for violent conduct against Crew striker Knox Cameron in the July 23 loss. "It's one of those things, much like any other play - a slide tackle, a good defensive play, a good offensive play - that happens where Knox and I were going for the ball. It was all about positioning and me beating him to the ball," Garcia said. "By no means did I intentionally try and hit him. By no means was I going after him or anything else, so for the league to come back a few days later and say, 'Hey, we're going to suspend you and fine you,' was a complete shock to me. I had no idea it was coming,"
On Wednesday, the holders of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup began defense of their trophy in fine fashion, striking 12 on the Cinderella of this year's competition with a 6-1 victory against the Des Moines Menace of the PDL (fourth tier) on Wednesday at Park University just outside of Kansas City.
Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff each scored goals on either side of halftime as the Wizards saw an early goal answered by the amateur side before their pedigree took over and they rolled to victory. Arnaud finished off a neat pass from Wolff off a set piece after just nine minutes, but the Menace pulled level three minutes later as Matt Wieland headed home a corner.
But just three minutes later, Wolff was tripped up in the area and converted his own penalty, then Sasha Victorine knocked home a Wolff pass to double the Wizards lead (31). After the break, Wolff was again hauled down in the box and converted his own spot kick (65), before Scott Sealy and Arnaud took turns playing provider for each other, the rookie finishing off a cool one-two on 65 minutes, Arnaud racing away with a Sealy pass before an emphatic finish 10 minutes later for the final scoreline.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): William Hesmer; Khari Stephenson, Shavar Thomas (Dustin Branan 67), Jimmy Conrad (Nick Garcia 46), Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein (Preki 73), Kerry Zavagnin, Jack Jewsbury (Scott Sealy 46'), Sasha Victorine; Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud