THE HOME DEPOT CENTER
7 pm PT (MetroSports)
The two clubs developed a healthy rivalry a season ago, and with two meetings in the final three weeks, it could set up another great set of matches between the pair. First though, the business at hand - the Los Angeles Galaxy can only secure a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with some help, but a victory means failure by either San Jose or Dallas to take the full points and they are in. The Kansas City Wizards have already booked passage, but they come to Carson, Calif., knowing that the maximum points will guarantee home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Rick Eddy; 4th: Kari Seitz
MLS Career: 57 games; FC/gm: 33.2; Y/gm: 4.1; R: 9; pens: 25
Games involving Galaxy: P10 W7 L0 T3; FC/gm: 32.6; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 2; pens: 6
Games involving Wizards: P15 W6 L7 T2; FC/gm: 33.7; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 0; pens: 10
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Chris Aloisi (L knee MCL sprain) ... 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: MD Francisco Gomez (L ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: LA: Andreas Herzog (10 CP in 2 gms); Tyrone Marshall (10 CP in 2 gms)
This is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season, the second of the two at The Home Depot Center. They'll conclude their season series on the final weekend of the season at Arrowhead Stadium. The Wizards claimed a victory in Carson in the first meeting, before allowing the Galaxy a late come-from-behind draw at home in the second on July 24.
A tense match truly exploded into life when the Wizards scored twice in a three-minute span just before the hour, Davy Arnaud first finishing off a neat tic-tac-toe movement with a rolling shot from inside the area past Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman (57), then Jack Jewsbury ripping home a low blast from outside the area.
Yet it took just six minutes for the Galaxy to respond, Carlos Ruiz playing a perfect dummy on a Cobi Jones cross, Sasha Victorine left alone to coolly sweep it home.
Then after tempers had flared and threatened to boil over, in the fifth minute of stoppage time Andreas Herzog whipped in a rebound of a cleared corner, Tyrone Marshall sending a glancing header inside Tony Meola's far post to keep Los Angeles ahead in the West.
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Taylor Graham, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Francisco Gomez (Jack Jewsbury 54), Diego Gutierrez - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
Here's Sigi Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa (Alejandro Moreno 87), Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog - Jovan Kirovski, Carlos Ruiz
The Wizards came back from a goal down to claim a 2-1 win on June 5 at The Home Depot Center. Alejandro Moreno gave the Galaxy a lead on 59 minutes, turning home a Ricky Lewis knockdown of an Andreas Herzog cross. But just six minutes later Francisco Gomez equalized, stabbing home a loose ball in the Galaxy area.
Then four minutes from time, Josh Wolff was set free on the left before whipping a low ball across the face of goal that Diego Gutierrez slid in to turn home and give the Wizards the three points.
Last year, the Wizards won three of the four meetings between the two teams, the Galaxy winning the other. Kansas City won on May 24 at home in dramatic fashion (Simutenkov 21, Preki 89 - Ruiz 75), then the Galaxy returned the favor on June 14 at home (Jones 54, Ruiz 73 pen - Wolff 49).
Then the Wizards won the final two meetings, again both through late drama, first at the HDC on Sept. 27 through a Chris Klein double (Moreno 5 - Klein 40, 81), then on a controversial Igor Simutenkov golden goal at Arrowhead on Oct. 11 (Zavagnin 13, Simutenkov 95 - Ruiz 67 pen)
The six matches (and nine of the last 10) in the series have all ended with 2-1 scorelines - the Wizards winning four. Before last season, the Galaxy had won the season series four of the previous five years.
Nearly half of the Galaxy's 53 goals in the series all-time have been scored after the 75th minute, including 14 in the final quarter-hour and three golden goal winners.
Cobi Jones leads current Galaxy players in the all-time scoring table against the Wizards, with 6 goals, 8 assists. Carlos Ruiz has 5 goals in 8 games - 3 coming last year. Only Sasha Victorine, Alejandro Moreno,Tyrone Marshall and Danny Califf have also hit for multiple goals v Kansas City (Victorine with 3, the others 2 each).
Preki has 8 goals, 8 assists in his career (all with Kansas City) against the Galaxy, the Wizards all-time club leader, but Chris Klein has 7 goals, 7 assists. Igor Simutenkov and Diego Gutierrez have 2 goals, 3 assists, while Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 2 assists (just 1 goal, 1 assist while with Kansas City).
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. KC: first game ... Bob Gansler v LA: P22 W8 L10 D4
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Wizards 14 wins (1 shootout), 40 goals ... Galaxy 16 wins (0 shootout), 53 goals ... 3 draws
AT LOS ANGELES (16 meetings): Wizards 10 wins (1 shootout), 25 goals ... Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 24 goals ... 0 draws
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Scoring chances were few and far between as the Earthquakes and Galaxy played the final 'California Clasico' of the league campaign.
The result left the Galaxy tied with the Colorado Rapids for second place in the West, while the Earthquakes pulled into a tie for fourth place with the Dallas Burn.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 to the Dallas Burn at the Cotton Bowl the previous Saturday. Chris Albright was suspended, meaning Sasha Victorine moved to right back, Alejandro Moreno moving to a wide midfield as Carlos Ruiz returned after missing three games to international duty then injury. Jovan Kirovski also returned after missing two matches to injury, coming in for Andreas Herzog in the deep-lying forward role.
"It's good to get the point but we should have stolen three points," said Sampson. "Cobi Jones had two clear shots and Carlos Ruiz had one. But I'm proud of how we played and protected our discipline more than anything."
Here's Sampson's team (4-2-3-1): Kevin Hartman - Sasha Victorine, Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Marcelo Saragosa, Peter Vagenas - Cobi Jones, Jovan Kirovski (Danny Califf 89), Alejandro Moreno (Arturo Torres 65) - Carlos Ruiz (Alan Gordon 89).
"I think that (we) feel like this was a really successful evening for us," said Hartman. "At this point in the season, we need to make sure that we are getting points and playing really smart soccer. Over the last four or five games, we have really been playing a style of soccer that is suited to us and we are tactically disciplined."
Hartman also indicated there the back four could maintain the alignment caused by Chris Albright's suspension. "We were winning headers and I have a ton of faith in not only Tyrone, Ryan and Paulie, but now I have a lot of faith in Sasha as my right back. They really did the work tonight, were disciplined and were able to move as a group. Pete and Marcelo always to a good job of stepping up and pressuring in the midfield."
Striker Alan Gordon made his MLS debut, coming on for Ruiz in the 89th minute, meaning that the Galaxy have once again seen every player in their squad appear in at least one league match during the season.
When he came on as a last-minute substitute in San Jose, defender Danny Califf made his 100th league appearance for his MLS career.
The Los Angeles Galaxy continued with the recent dismal run of form, posting a draw for the sixth time in their last 10 matches, this time playing to a scoreless draw away to the San Jose Earthquakes in the final league installment of the California Clasico. The Galaxy pulled into a tie for second in the Western Conference with the Colorado Rapids, both on 29 points, though from 27 matches the Galaxy have played one fewer.
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Igor Simutenkov was once again the hero, scoring less than a minute after coming on as a substitute to the give the Wizards the victory.
Simutenkov played a neat 1-2 with Josh Wolff across the top of the area before sliding a rolling shot past Joe Cannon for the game's only goal (55) as the Rapids went down to defeat for the second consecutive week.
On Wednesday, Simutenkov gave the Wizards their first U.S. Open Cup, his free kick that rattled off the underside of the bar and off Fire 'keeper Henry Ring five minutes into extra time giving K.C. a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire.
"Igor's got a new title - designated scorer," said Wizards head coach Bob Gansler. "You've got the designated hitter in baseball, and we've got our designated scorer."
Gansler made one change to the team that defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at home the previous weekend. Diego Walsh came back into the Wizards midfield, Alex Zotinca returning to right back as Taylor Graham was the odd man out.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Jack Jewsbury, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Diego Walsh (Igor Simutenkov 54 / Taylor Graham 84) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
"Three 1-0 wins in eight days, and all of great consequence," Gansler said. "Tonight was a case of mind over matter. We came out and played and were the better side in the first half, which is what we wanted to do. We were spent in the second half. You can only run so many miles."
After scoring goals in four consecutive games from Aug. 21 to Sept. 10, Wolff has played provider for the match winners in the last two victories, laying on both of Simutenkov's goals.
"The idea is linking up with guys, coming underneath, or coming around," Wolff said. "Igor did a great job selling it. Then, he did a good job finishing. It was a good goal at a good time. We needed it." Said Gansler: "Josh is only 27, but he plays like a seasoned veteran. Josh simply sees. He has the ability to hold the ball, screen it, and then get it through. He's our playmaker."
For Oshoniyi, it was his third shutout in six league matches since coming in for the injured Tony Meola and fourth clean sheet in all competitions. "We're limiting teams to not many chances, and that's leading to shutouts," he said. "We clinched a playoff spot. That's always a plus. Now, we can kind of refine things and hopefully try to stay on top of the conference and get home-field advantage for the playoffs."
There was a thought Meola would return to duty after backstopping the midweek Open Cup Final victory, but his strained right Achilles tendon did not react well to the match. "It's not good," he said before the match. "I've had a lot of pain over the last couple days."
As well, the Wizards could be without Francisco Gomez for a while, after he suffered a sprained left ankle in training during the week that kept him unavailable for the match.
The Kansas City Wizards clinched a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs with their second consecutive 1-0 victory and their fourth win in six games, a home defeat of the Colorado Rapids. The Wizards now lead the Western Conference by five points (and the race for the Supporters Shield by one) with 44 points from 27 matches, and can guarantee the road to the MLS Cup will go through Arrowhead Stadium with a defeat of the Galaxy.
The Los Angeles Galaxy can clinch a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory against the Kansas City Wizards AND a loss or a tie by EITHER the San Jose Earthquakes or Dallas Burn; or with a draw against the Wizards AND a loss by EITHER the Earthquakes or the Burn.
The Kansas City Wizards earned their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs a week ago, and with a victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy, they clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.
Following are the tiebreaking procedures if teams are level in the standings:
a. Head-to-head competition against all other teams equal in points, based on highest points-per-game average.
b. Overall team goal differential.
c. Total goals scored.
d-f. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season road games only.
g-i. Tiebreakers a-c are applied to each team's regular-season home games only.
j. Fewest disciplinary points
k. Coin flip
As of Sept. 25, here is how the MLS Cup playoffs would have looked:
SERIES A: (E1) Columbus vs. (E4) Chicago
SERIES B: (E2) MetroStars vs. (E3) D.C. United
SERIES C: (W1) Kansas City vs. (W4) San Jose
SERIES D: (W2) Los Angeles vs. (W3) Colorado
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of CLB/CHI vs. Winner of MET/DC
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: Winner of KC/SJ vs. Winner of COL/LA
MLS CUP 2004: Winners of Conference Championship Games
Series A - D played under home-and-home, total goals format ... If teams tied on aggregate, 30-minute, golden-goal overtime period follows, then followed by penalty kicks (if necessary) to determine Series winner ... Higher seed holds home-field advantage for Game 2 of Series ... Conference Championship Games and MLS Cup, if tied after 90 minutes, determined by 30-minute, golden-goal overtime ... If neither team scores during that time, the series will be decided via penalty kick shootout held according to FIFA regulations
Series A-D - Game One
Weekend of Friday, October 22 - Sunday, October 24 @ LOWER-SEED home site
Series A-D - Game Two (+ 30-minute golden-goal period, if tied on aggregate goals)
Weekend of Friday, October 29 - Friday, October 31 @ HIGHER-SEED home site
Eastern Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
Western Conference Championship / Nov. 5 / 6 / 7
MLS Cup 2004 / Sun., Nov. 14 - ABC / 3:30 PM ET - The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.