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7:30 pm ET (WB-56)
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference face off in the first weekend of a home-and-home series, with both clubs hit by numerous absences to national team duty this time around. The New England Revolution are still undefeated on the campaign, but have gained only draws in their last two matches - needing late heroics two weeks ago then struggling to break down a Colorado defense in last week's scoreless draw. The Kansas City Wizards, also struggling to score goals lately, are on the back end of a coast-to-coast road trip, playing to a draw themselves at midweek against Chivas USA on the West Coast.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Erich Simmons
MLS Career: 86 games; FC/gm: 30.9; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 18; pens: 31
Games involving Revolution: P21 W8 L12 T1; FC/gm: 31.8; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 8; pens: 5
Games involving Wizards: P19 W8 L5 T6; FC/gm: 29.5; Y/gm: 2.6; R: 2; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Shalrie Joseph (broken nose); PROBABLE: DF Joe Franchino (R quadriceps strain);: MF James Riley (L hamstring strain): MF Cassio (R turf toe): MF Felix Brillant (L ankle bone bruise); DF Marshall Leonard (osteitis pubis) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MF Diego Walsh (athletic pubalgia)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NE: Steve Ralston, Pat Noonan, Clint Dempsey (USA; June 4 v Costa Rica); Avery John (Trinidad & Tobago; June 4 v Panama) ... KC: Josh Wolff, Kerry Zavagnin (USA; June 4 v Costa Rica)
YELLOW PERIL: NE: DF Avery John (10 CP in 2 gms) ... KC: FW Davy Arnaud (18 CP)
This is the first of two meetings between the clubs this season, and the first of a home-and-home series over the next two weeks. This is the only meeting set for Gillette Stadium; next weekend will the only game set for Arrowhead Stadium.
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 once in the series in the last five seasons. Their victory last year spanned 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: P7 W1 L4 D2... Bob Gansler v NE: P12 W7 L3 D2
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Revolution 7 wins (1 shootout), 27 goals ... Wizards 12 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals ... 2 draws
AT FOXBOROUGH (11 meetings): Revolution 4 wins (1 shootout), 16 goals ... Wizards 6 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals ... 1 draw
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Once again a Western Conference team come into Gillette Stadium and looked to defend in depth, and this time came away with a share of the spoils. Chivas USA had nearly achieved it earlier in the year, only to see a late goal give the Revs a victory.
New England missed the influence of two starters away on international duty as they struggled to break down a massed Rapids defense. The Rapids survived playing the final 10 minutes a man down after Guy Melamed - a product of nearby Boston College - was sent off with a second yellow card.
"We didn't create enough offensive chances. Colorado had a game plan to come in and pack it in and win a point on the road. They did their jobs and we didn't do our job in creating enough chances, goalkeeper Matt Reis said. "It's going to happen. Teams are going to going to come in with a game plan.
Revolution coach Steve Nicol made two changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw away to the MetroStars the weekend before - as Steve Ralston and Clint Dempsey were both away on international duty. James Riley came on the flank for Ralston, while Jose Cancela returned to the starting lineup in the center of midfield for Dempsey.
Here's Nicol's team (3-1-4-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John - Shalrie Joseph - James Riley (Ryan Latham 79), Jose Cancela (Joe Franchino 61), Andy Dorman, Marshall Leonard (Khano Smith 61) - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan
"We're happy to be in our position but it comes with certain things. Teams will try to get more players behind the ball," Nicol said. "So individually, we have to make sure we're sharp and ready for the challenge. We don't have problems with teams coming here and doing that."
The New England Revolution remained unbeaten on the season but for the second successive weekend failed to come away with the full three points, playing to a scoreless draw against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution still have the league's best record, but now share the top spot with FC Dallas, both on 21 points, though the Revs have played nine games (one fewer).
While the Revs are still unbeaten on the season, they were not pleased at having come away with only a single point at home for the second consecutive match.
"It was easily our worst game of the year. We came out flat and couldn't complete two passes. We didn't complete our passes and didn't help each other out," Twellman said. "It's a little disappointing playing that way at home. It's two games in a row we've come out a little flat. We've got to figure it out."
Even though the Revolution were struggling to create chances, Nicol made what some would consider a defensive change on the hour when José Cancela was taken off and Joe Franchino - who normally fills a fullback role - came on in his place.
"We had lost the midfield for some strange reason, even with five in the midfield," said Nicol. "Unfortunately, Pepe [Cancela] was the one who had to make way. We had to make the change to get the ascendancy."
Ryan Latham made his MLS debut, coming on for James Riley in the 79th minute. "We brought on Latham and he got his first minutes. It was a short time but he did well, and I think there's a lot more there. Then, of course, we got Joey (Franchino) back and Cassio healthy," said Nicol to The Boston Globe.'
Clint Dempsey scored his first international goal, hitting 11 minutes from the end for the USA in their 2-1 loss to England on Saturday at Soldier Field.
Then after the match, the Revolution found out they would missing a third starter when Pat Noonan was called into the U.S. national team for the World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Felix Brillant has been called into the Canada national team in Fort Lauderdale from June 4-9 for a training camp in advance of this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has not yet won an international cap.
The Revolution are also expected to be without defender Avery John, who will be called into the Trinidad & Tobago national team for their World Cup qualifier on Saturday against Panama.
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
A very quiet match burst to life on the half-hour, when Jose Burciaga Jr. gave the Wizards the lead with another long-range bomb on The Home Depot Center field. From the left flank some 25 yards from goal, he let fly with a speculative blast aimed for the far post that flew over the head of Chivas 'keeper Martin Zuniga and rattled off the inside of the woodwork into the back of the net.
But eight minutes later Chivas drew level through Ramon Ramirez. Having won a free kick about 27 yards straight out from goal, his blast swerved and dipped past Oshoniyi's dive to his left, though the K.C. 'keeper was able to get a hand on the ball.
"There was evidence that this is our third game in eight days. The body is willing and I think we worked hard and weren't out battled and all of that," Wizards coach Bob Gansler said. "But it was tough to execute, we would control the ball, move it, and then that last pass wouldn't come or the possibility for the shot was somehow wasted. So we didn't execute as well as we know we can - and have in the last couple of games."
Gansler kept his team the same for the third consecutive match. Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Brian Roberts 89), Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Diego Gutierrez, Alex Zotinca - Scott Sealy (Justin Detter 72), Davy Arnaud (Jack Jewsbury 64).
"Every tie has a different taste, and we don't like the taste of this one. We think we didn't play well. We feel we didn't play the way we wanted to play in order to get the three points. And a faster pace and up-tempo style we pretty much the whole night played at their pace, with the exception of a few sprints, and we actually created opportunities. So we'll take he point and we'll learn from this game," said captain Diego Gutierrez.
The Kansas City Wizards extended their unbeaten run to three matches, scoring one goal again as they had done in the previous two victories, this time in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center. The Wizards moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference along with the Chicago Fire with 16 points from 10 matches, five points behind the pace-setting New England Revolution.
It was a third consecutive game without forward Josh Wolff and midfielder Kerry Zavagnin, both away on international duty. In the seven previous with them in the lineup, the Wizards had scored 19 goals, but in their absence had hit for just one in each of the games - though winning two.
"Those are guys that you can't replace but we have a deep enough squad where we feel that we can come out and win every game," said Wizards captain Diego Gutierrez. "We played well the previous two games without them so it's not a make or break thing where if we don't have them we won't perform well." Said Victorine about Wolff: "He's one of those guys that wreak havoc on defenses. He can create chances by himself and we missed that tonight."
Once again Burciaga hit a long-range bomb at The Home Depot Center. His wonder strike in last year's MLS Cup Final gave the Wizards a short-lived lead. "All I was trying to do was reach the far post and luckily it went in," Burciaga said.
Despite the rocky start to the coast-to-coast trip, the Wizards are now looking forward to the six points on offer against the Revolution, a matchup of the top two teams in the East. "We're looking up at that team so there shouldn't be any problem getting motivated," said Gansler.