Wizards have uphill battle vs. Quakes
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: SJ 16 wins, 45 gls; KC 14 wins, 42 gls; 6 ties
2004 HEAD-TO-HEAD: SJ 1 wins, 3 gls; KC 1 wins, 2 gls; 2 ties
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: SJ 2 wins, 5 gls; KC 0 wins, 2 gls
REFEREE: Terry Vaughn.
SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): George Gansner;
4th: Abbey Okulaja
INJURY REPORT: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MD Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DOUBTFUL: DF Eddie Robinson (L LCL sprain); MD Ronnie Ekelund (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Troy Dayak (R shoulder sprain); FW Arturo Alvarez (R hip strain); ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Chris Klein (L knee torn ACL); MD Preki (L ankle surgery); PROBABLE: GK Tony Meola (R Achilles tendon strain)
YELLOW PERIL: KC: Igor Simutenkov (4 CP); Alex Zotinca (4 CP) ... SJ: Jeff Agoos (4 CP); Brian Mullan (5 CP)
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Regular Wizards starting goalkeeper Tony Meola has said he is fit and fully available for duty for the second leg against the Earthquakes on Saturday night. "I feel game sharp, ready to go," Meola said. "We've got to get two goals, got to make a game of it." ... Wizards boss Bob Gansler however refused to automatically install Meola as the starter for the Kansas City home leg, after San Jose took a 2-0 lead on aggregate in the first game at Spartan Stadium. "We're going to get all our assets ready and go from there," Gansler said. "It's going to play out as to what our best option is." ... Now needing two goals to force extra time at the very least, the Wizards come into the match knowing they haven't scored more than one goal in a game since Aug. 21 -- a span of 10 matches in all competitions. "We not only have to create more chances but also realize them," said Gansler. "We haven't given up too many goals. Our practices the past few weeks have been 70 or 80% offensively oriented. I always tell them, 'It takes two to get a win.' But what do I know?" ... Added midfielder Diego Gutierrez: "Undeniably, there's some urgency there. We've got to come out and do what we always do at home, stay solid behind the ball and defend, then push forward and try to score some goals. There hasn't been a lack of chances. But, we've definitely made our lives more difficult. We've got to put ourselves in position where we're in command early and take it to them." ... Even while the two-goal deficit has put the Wizards in a difficult place in the second leg, as much as anything it's their approach to the return game they want to change. "An average performance wouldn't do, and I think we had an average-minus day. We have to find that level as individuals and as a team that we need to score some goals and get back in this," said Gansler. "Yes, it's doable, but it's going to be extremely difficult."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
After missing the first leg due to personal reasons, Earthquakes central midfielder Richard Mulrooney has missed training throughout the early part of the week heading into the return match at Arrowhead Stadium, but is expected to join the team in Kansas City in time to play on Saturday. Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said Mulrooney has been running since leaving the team early in the week before the first game, and should be able to be inserted into the lineup with no difficulty. ... However, midfielder Ronnie Ekelund is still listed as doubtful for the second leg as he has not been available for full training during the week. ... Defender Troy Dayak did return to full training this week, and could also be an option in the back four for Kinnear. Dayak is wearing a harness under his jersey to keep his shoulder immobilized, but was warming up on the sideline during the Spartan Stadium contest and was ready to enter the match. Central defender Eddie Robinson also returned to training during the week, but is less likely to be available. ... Of any of the teams in the postseason, the Earthquakes know more intimately that anyone the task facing the Wizards. A year ago, San Jose finished atop the Western Conference and went to Los Angeles for the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal, losing 2-0. They then performed one of the most miraculous comebacks ever, coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the second leg to claim a 5-2 win, winning the tie 5-4 on aggregate on their way to a second MLS Cup title. "We know what their situation is like," said forward Landon Donovan. "We know the position that they are in because we were there last year, so they are going to come after us at their home field -- which is a very hard place to play." ... Landon Donovan was the only domestic-based player named a finalist for the Honda U.S. Player of the Year award, to be announced Nov. 18. Also nominated were DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven) and Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC).