Weekly update: Off to la-la land

Diego Gutierrez struck the winner for the Wizards

Photo Credit: 
Edward Zurga/MLS/WireImage.com

This Week with the Wizards - Headlines for Week of September 27th:

Wizards Look to Clinch Home Field Advantage on Saturday Against Los Angeles

Wizards Playoff Scenario

Simutenkov Becoming Wizards "Designated Scorer", Making Bid for Comeback Player of the Year

This Week with the Wizards

Wizards Look to Clinch Home Field Advantage on Saturday Against Los Angeles

The Kansas City Wizards secured a spot in the postseason for the fifth consecutive season with a 1-0 win against the Colorado Rapids at home last Saturday night. This weekend, they take to road with home field advantage on their mind. The Wizards will face the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, October 2nd at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. The match will kickoff at 9:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on Metro Sports.

Kansas City (13-9-5, 44 points) currently own the best record in MLS and sit five points ahead of Los Angeles (10-8-9, 39 points) and Colorado, who are tied for second in the West. If the Wizards win on Saturday against the Galaxy, they can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Home field advantage would mean a home game for the Wizards in the second leg of their first round playoff paring against the fourth place team in the West and they would host the Western Conference Final if they advance.

Los Angeles will be looking to get back on track after a shaky start to the Steve Sampson era. Sampson, who replaced Sigi Schmid as the head coach of the Galaxy on August 18th has posted a 1-2-2 mark since taking over. The Galaxy has fallen from the top overall position in MLS back in August to a tie for second in the West and five points behind the Wizards. While a playoff spot is no guarantee for the Galaxy, they still sit four points ahead of Dallas and San Jose, who are tied with 35 points, with three games remaining in the regular season.

Following the Wizards trip to Los Angeles this weekend, the team will return to the west coast to face the San Jose Earthquakes on October 9th before coming home for their final regular season match of the year against the Galaxy. The regular season finale will take place on Saturday, October 16th and will be part of a doubleheader with the Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. Women's National Team.

Wizards Playoff Scenario

The Wizards have already clinched a berth in the postseason, but there is still a lot to play for in the final three weeks of the season. If the Wizards win at Los Angeles this weekend, they will secure the top seed in the Western Conference and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Several other scenarios exist where Kansas City would clinch at least home field in the first round of the playoffs based on the outcomes of this weekend's matches. The Wizards could finish no lower than 2nd in the West with a tie against Los Angeles OR a Colorado Rapids tie or loss this weekend in their match against San Jose. The Wizards playoff scenario is as follows:

Kansas City Wizards clinch Western Conference regular season title and #1 seed with:

(a) win vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Kansas City Wizards clinch home field in first round of playoffs and no lower than #2 seed with:

(a) tie vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

(b) Colorado Rapids tie vs. San Jose Earthquakes

(c) Colorado Rapids loss vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Simutenkov Becoming Wizards "Designated Scorer", Making Bid for Comeback Player of the Year

Kansas City Wizards forward Igor Simutenkov has been dubbed by Head Coach Bob Gansler as the team's "designated scorer" and is also making his bid for Major League Soccer's Comeback Player of the Year. Simutenkov scored his second game-winning goal in four days on Saturday night, both times after coming on as a substitute.

The Russian striker came on at halftime on Wednesday night and scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Wizards shutout the Chicago Fire 1-0 to capture the 2004 U.S. Open Cup Championship. On Saturday, he scored the game-winning goal against the Colorado Rapids to help the Wizards extend their lead in the Western Conference. Saturday's goal came just 49-seconds after he entered the game

"Igor has a new title, it is called 'designated scorer'," said Gansler following the game. "I tried to explain it to him that in baseball you have designated hitters, and for us he is going to be the designated scorer."

Simutenkov missed the first four and a half months of the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in February of this year, forcing him to miss the entire preseason and the first 19 games of the year. He returned on August 14th and has since scored the game winning goals in two U.S. Open Cup matches - the 1-0 semifinal win against San Jose and the 1-0 win in the Final, as well as the game-winner against Colorado. He is one of the top candidates for MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

This Week with the Wizards

Wizards Participate in Golf Tournament to Benefit Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics

Wizards players Diego Gutierrez, Nick Garcia, Davy Arnaud and Francisco Gomez will play in the Liberty Fruit's 5th Annual Golf Tournament at Deer Creek Golf Club on Tuesday afternoon. All proceeds raised at this event will go to Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. For tournament details please call 913-681-3100.

Burciaga and Hesmer Work with Oak Grove Soccer Club on Tuesday Night

Wizards defender Jose Burciaga and goalkeeper William Hesmer will host a soccer clinic for Oak Grove Soccer Club on Tuesday night at Webb Park. Burciaga and Hesmer will work with youth players and then be available for autographs following the clinic. Webb Park is located at 19th and Oak in Oak Grove, MO.

Wizards Injury/Absence Report
Out:

M - Chris Klein, Torn ACL (L)

M - Preki, Ankle Surgery (L)
Questionable:

GK - Tony Meola, Strained Achilles (R)
Probable:

M - Francisco Gomez, Sprained Ankle (L)


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