KANSAS CITY WIZARDS vs LOS ANGELES GALAXY
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
7:30 pm CT (FSW/E; KWHY)
The two top teams in Major League Soccer meet in a mouth-watering clash to decide league supremacy heading into the All-Star break. The home-standing Kansas City Wizards come in to the match riding an eight-game unbeaten run, having also survived a test against A-League opposition in the Open Cup at midweek. The Los Angeles Galaxy are unbeaten in their last five league games, in the third game of a four-game road swing, but they stumbled in losing to a lower-division side on Tuesday for their earliest-ever departure from the U.S. Open Cup.
REFEREE: Hector Tobon. SAR (bench): Tom Supple; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 5 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 1; pens: 2
Games involving Wizards: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 0.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Galaxy: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 36.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 0; pens: 1
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Preki (L fractured fibula/L dislocated ankle); FW Igor Simutenkov (L torn Achilles tendon)
LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Danny Califf (L torn meniscus) QUESTIONABLE: MD Peter Vagenas (R groin strain); DF Chris Albright (R ankle sprain); DF Tyrone Marshall (R shin contusion); DF Hong Myung Bo (neck straing) PROBABLE: MD Cobi Jones (R knee contusion); MD Andreas Herzog (lower back strain); MD Marcelo Saragosa (R ankle sprain); Ryan Suarez (back strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Nick Garcia (through July 24); Shavar Thomas (through July 24)
YELLOW PERIL: KC: Diego Gutierrez (19 CP); Jack Jewsbury (10 CP in 2 gms) ... LA: Peter Vagenas (10 CP in 2 gms); Ryan Suarez (20 CP)
This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this season, the first of two at Arrowhead Stadium. They won't face each other again until the final three weeks of the season, meeting first on Victoria Street on Oct. 2, and then back at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 16.
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.
Here's Sigi Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Ryan Suarez, Hong Myung-Bo, Ricky Lewis - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa, Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog - Jovan Kirovski (Arturo Torres 81), Alejandro Moreno (Joseph Ngwenya 68).
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Walsh (Francisco Gomez 57), Diego Gutierrez - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff (Alex Zotinca 89).
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, 7 assists. Carlos Ruiz has 5 goals in 7 games - 3 coming last year. Only Sasha Victorine, Alejandro Moreno and Danny Califf have also hit for multiple goals v Kansas City (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, 6 assists. Igor Simutenkov has 2 goals, 3 assists, while Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 2 assists (just 1 goal, 1 assist while with Kansas City).
Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. KC: P21 W10 L8 D3 ... Bob Gansler v LA: P21 W8 L10 D3
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Wizards 14 wins (1 shootout), 40 goals ... Galaxy 16 wins (0 shootout), 53 goals ... 3 draws
AT KANSAS CITY (16 meetings): Wizards 10 wins (1 shootout), 25 goals ... Galaxy 6 wins (0 shootout), 24 goals ... 0 draws
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Diego Gutierrez coolly finished off a lightning-quick counterattack that went from box to box in three passes (42), Josh Wolff selling a perfect dummy on a Chris Klein cross to allow the pass to reach Gutierrez in the heart of the box.
The Wizards then survived a nervy final quarter-hour when Shavar Thomas was sent off for a second bookable offense, but came away with the full three points to set up next Saturday's showdown in Kansas City.
"It's comforting to know that you can beat a team on the road, when you're down a man the last 15 minutes," said Gutierrez. "It says a lot about the character of this team. It's still a long road ahead of us, but if we take it one game at a time we could be on the top when it matters at the end of the season."
Wizards coach Bob Gansler made three changes to the team that defeated D.C. United 1-0 the previous weekend at Arrowhead Stadium.
Alex Zotinca came in at right back as Jose Burciaga Jr. moved forward into the midfield, while Kerry Zavagnin also came into the engine room, back from national team duty. That meant returns to the substitutes' bench for Jack Jewsbury and Francisco Gomez. Josh Wolff also returned from the U.S. national team, coming into attack for Matt Taylor.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca (Taylor Graham 78), Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Jose Burciaga Jr. (Jack Jewsbury 56) - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff (Matt Taylor 82).
"We are a confident team right now," said Gansler. "We are aiming to be up at the top of the division. We're not there yet, but every game we are getting closer to where we want to be."
On Tuesday, the Wizards hit back with two goals in two minutes early in the second half to ease past A-League side Atlanta Silverbacks in Clarkston, Ga. with a 4-1 victory. Davy Arnaud hit for the first of his two goals in the 12th minute, before former MLS MVP Alex Pineda Chacon hammered a free kick through the wall to level terms (40).
But after the break, Arnaud tapped home a loose ball from a corner kick (52), then two minutes later, Francisco Gomez hit a wicked first-time volley of an Arnaud cross to double the Wizards lead. Diego Gutierrez then finished off the match in the 81st minute when he rocketed home a shot from inside the area.
"You can't play without passion," Gansler said. "The difference between MLS and the A-League ... well, there's a gap, but it's not a gulf. We stopped competing for a while, and that's not going to get it done."
Here's Gansler's team: Tony Meola (Bo Oshoniyi 71); Nick Garcia, Taylor Graham (Alex Zotinca 46), Jimmy Conrad, Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Francisco Gomez (Khari Stephenson 75); Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff (Justin Detter 63)
The Kansas City Wizards won for the third consecutive weekend and ran their unbeaten streak to a league-high eight matches with a 1-0 victory against the Dallas Burn last Saturday, then eased to a 4-1 victory at midweek against the A-League Atlanta Silverbacks in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. The league victory pulled the Wizards to within one point of the Galaxy atop the Western Conference, with 31 points from 17 matches (and two games in hand).
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Galaxy were the recipients of a controversial penalty to earn the draw with D.C. United in the second game of their four-game road swing.
Ryan Nelsen gave the home side the lead in first-half stoppage time, on the spot to tap home from close range after a Dema Kovalenko cross came off Jaime Moreno as he challenged for a header in the box.
But in the 66th minute, Ruiz saw a first shot blocked by United 'keeper Troy Perkins, the rebound hitting a sliding Brandon Prideaux, but referee Kevin Stott pointing to the spot after he ruled the contact was with Prideaux's arm. Ruiz knocked home the spot kick to retake the league lead with 10 goals.
Galaxy boss Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids just three days before in Denver. Hong Myung-Bo returned to central defense as Chris Albright was rested, the back four undergoing a shuffle. Marcelo Saragosa returned from injury to come into midfield for Ned Grabavoy, while Alejandro Moreno came into attack for Jovan Kirovski.
Here's Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Tyrone Marshall (Ricky Lewis 34), Hong Myung-Bo, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Arturo Torres (Cobi Jones 68), Marcelo Saragosa, Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog (Jovan Kirovski 46) - Alejandro Moreno, Carlos Ruiz.
Then on Tuesday, the Galaxy were shocked by A-League Minnesota Thunder, losing 1-0 in their fourth-round U.S. Open Cup tie at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. It was the first time in six appearances in the competition the Galaxy were dumped out at the first hurdle.
The only goal of the game came in the 25th minute when Jeff Matteo swung in a free kick from the right, finding Chris Brunt who headed home.
Here's the team Schmid ran out: Dan Popik - Ricky Lewis, Ryan Suarez (46: Marcelo Saragosa), Chris Aloisi - Arturo Torres, Ned Grabavoy (79: Guillermo Gonzalez), Sasha Victorine, Paul Broome (46: Josh Gardner), Jovan Kirovski - Joseph Ngwenya (57: Carlos Ruiz), Alejandro Moreno
"We lost the game in the first 20 minutes tonight," Schmid said. "We gave them confidence and hope in those first 20 minutes, even though we slowly grabbed the game back it was not enough."
The Los Angeles Galaxy extended their unbeaten run to five matches though they drew for the second time in a week, coming back to claim a 1-1 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium in league play on Saturday - before they were stunningly dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup in a 1-0 loss to A-League side Minnesota Thunder on Tuesday. The Galaxy still own the best record in MLS with 32 points from 19 matches, one ahead of Kansas City and nine ahead of Eastern Conference-leading MetroStars.