Weekly update: Payback

Bob Gansler will try to lead his charges to a second MLS Cup title.

Photo Credit: 
Edward Zurga Jr./MLS/WireImage.com

This Week with the Wizards - Headlines for Week of October 18th:

Wizards Open 2004 Postseason at San Jose on Sunday, October 24th, Live on ESPN2

Gansler & Conrad Frontrunners for Postseason Honors

MLS Postseason Schedule Set

This Week with the Wizards

Wizards Open 2004 Postseason at San Jose on Sunday, October 24th, Live on ESPN2

The 2004 U.S. Open Cup Champion Kansas City Wizards will begin their quest for a second championship this year on Sunday, October 24th. The Wizards open the postseason on the road on Sunday against the Defending MLS Cup Champion San Jose Earthquakes in Game 1 of their first round playoff series. Sunday's match will kickoff at 4:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Kansas City (14-9-7, 49 points) finished the regular season tied for the best record in MLS with Columbus, but missed out on winning the Supporters Shield by virtue of the third tiebreaker scenario, total goals, finishing two goals behind the Crew. San Jose reached the postseason, thanks to a 2-2 tie with Dallas in the final game of the regular season.

The two sides have faced each other just once before in the postseason, squaring off in the Western Conference Final last year in San Jose. The Earthquakes won that meeting 3-2 in overtime to advance to the MLS Cup Final and eventually went on to win MLS Cup.

The Wizards enter the postseason as the best defensive team in MLS after allowing just 30 goals in the regular season, the fewest in MLS, and posting a League-high 12 shutouts. Kansas City shut out Landon Donovan and the 'Quakes in each of their last two regular season meetings and the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. After clinching the #1 seed in the West, a Wizards win in the first round series against the Earthquakes would mean they would host the Western Conference Final at Arrowhead for the right to represent the West at the 2004 MLS Cup Final in Los Angeles.

Gansler & Conrad Frontrunners for Postseason Honors

Kansas City Wizards Head Coach Bob Gansler and defender Jimmy Conrad have presented their cases for postseason hardware through the 30 games of the 2004 season, what happens next is up to the voters. Conrad has his sights set on the MLS Defender of the Year honor, while Gansler is in the running for his second MLS Coach of the Year award.

Conrad anchored the League's best defensive unit that allowed just 30 goals in 2004, the lowest total in MLS. He also played a huge role in the Wizards League-high 12 shutouts this year, including nine at Arrowhead Stadium. Conrad's calming presence eased the team's goalkeeper transition in mid-August after starting goalkeeper Tony Meola suffered an Achilles injury, forcing reserve 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi to step in for the final nine games of the season.

Gansler orchestrated the Wizards impressive run to the Western Conference Regular Season Title and a share of the best record in MLS despite having a roster decimated by injuries to some of the top players in MLS. Gansler lost his two leading scorers from 2003 - reigning MLS MVP Preki and forward Igor Simutenkov - for the first six months of the season. Then in August, the Wizards lost All-Star midfielder Chris Klein to a torn ACL and five-time All-Star goalkeeper Tony Meola to an Achilles injury.

In all the Wizards lost a total of 81 man-games due to injuries and another nine games due to All-Stars Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin's call-in to the U.S. National Team for World Cup Qualifying. The losses allowed Gansler to turn to younger players like forward Davy Arnaud, who finished 7th in the League in scoring with 26 points (9g, 8a), midfielder Jack Jewsbury and developmental defender Taylor Graham, both of whom were draft picks in 2003 and made 22 and 17 appearances, respectively, this season. Gansler's roster management helped figure in to the Wizards League-best 14 wins in 2004.

MLS Postseason Schedule Set

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

COLUMBUS CREW (No. 1) vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (No. 4)

Game 1: Columbus Crew at New England Revolution - Saturday, October 23 @ 6:30 p.m. CT

Gillette Stadium - Foxboro, Massachusetts

TV: TBD

Game 2: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew - Sunday, October 31 @ 4:00 p.m. CT

Columbus Crew Stadium - Columbus, Ohio

TV: ESPN2

D.C. UNITED (No. 2) vs. METROSTARS (No. 3)

Game 1: D.C. United at MetroStars - Saturday, October 23 @ 6:30 p.m. CT

Giants Stadium - East Rutherford, New Jersey

TV: TBD

Game 2: MetroStars at D.C. United - Saturday, October 30 @ 6:00 p.m. CT

RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.

TV: TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (No. 1) vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (No. 4)

Game 1: Kansas City Wizards at San Jose Earthquakes - Sunday, October 24 @ 4:00 p.m. CT

Spartan Stadium - San Jose, California

TV: ESPN2

Game 2: San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards - Saturday, October 30 @ 7:30 p.m. CT

Arrowhead Stadium - Kansas City, Missouri

TV: TBD

LOS ANGELES GALAXY (No. 2) vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (No. 3)

Game 1: Los Angeles Galaxy at Colorado Rapids - Friday, October 22 @ 8:30 p.m. CT

Invesco Field at Mile High - Denver, Colorado

TV: KWHY (tape delay at 10:00 p.m. CT)

Game 2: Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles Galaxy - Saturday, October 30 @ 9:00 p.m. CT

The Home Depot Center - Carson, California

TV: TBD

This Week with the Wizards

Conrad at St. Michaels School in Leawood for Pizza Party

Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad will be the life of the Bank of Blue Valley Pizza Party at St. Michaels School on Monday evening. Conrad will be visiting with and signing autographs for a group of students who successfully completed the Bank of Blue Valley summer reading challenge.

Burciaga at Raymore Dairy Queen

Wizards defender Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. will make a special appearance at the Raymore Dairy Queen. Burciaga will sign autographs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 21st. The event is open to the public. The Raymore Dairy Queen is located at 400 W. Foxridge Drive. Call 816-322-9000 for directions.

Wizards Injury/Absence Report

Out:

M - Chris Klein, Torn ACL (L)

M - Preki, Ankle Surgery (L)
Questionable:

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

F - Davy Arnaud, Hip Strain (R)

M - Francisco Gomez, Calf Strain (R)


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