KANSAS CITY WIZARDS v CHICAGO FIRE
ARROWHEAD STADIUM, Kansas City, Mo.
7:30 p.m. CT (no TV)
June 17, 2006 (WEEK 12) / MLS Game #70
Since April 15, the Kansas City Wizards have scored one - and just one - goal in every game they've played. But last weekend it was enough, their 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew ending a five-game winless streak, since another 1-0 victory against the Crew. They entertain a Chicago Fire that finally got to play a home game - and saw the New England Revolution score two goals in stoppage time to snatch a 3-3 draw in the first-ever game at Toyota Park, the Fire's winless streak now at three games.
REFEREE: Andrew Chapin. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Michael Salyer; 4th: Brad Clem
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 30.4; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 3; pens: 1
MLS 2006: 2 games; FC/gm: 32.5 (avg: 29.9); Y/gm: 4.5 (avg: 3.82); R: 1 (MLS: 9); pens: 0 (MLS: 15)
Games involving Wizards: P3 W3 L0 T0; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 5.7; R: 1; pens: 1
Games involving Fire: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - PROBABLE: DF Nick Garcia (L adductor strain) ... CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: FW Chad Barrett (groin strain); DF Jim Curtin (R foot fracture); MF Diego Gutierrez (R hamstring strain); DF Tony Sanneh (R hamstring strain); MF John Thorrington (R knee sprain); DOUBTFUL: FW Chris Rolfe (concussion); PROBABLE: DF Dasan Robinson (hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Johnson (USA, 2006 World Cup)
This is the second of four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this year, and the second of two in Missouri. The league season series will conclude with a pair of matches at Toyota Park, on July 4 and Aug. 16.
A year ago, the Wizards won two of the four league encounters, with the Fire claiming one and the fourth ending in a draw. It was the first time ever Kansas City had won the season series between the clubs; in 2000 and 2002, the teams evenly split their matches.
The teams have also met in two cup finals, but the Wizards have had the upper hand, winning the honors on both occasions: MLS Cup 2000 and the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, both by 1-0 scorelines.
Coaches record: Bob Gansler vs. CHI: P20 W5 L11 D4 ... Dave Sarachan v KC: P11 W4 L3 D4
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): Wizards 6 wins (0 shootout), 31 goals ... Fire 15 wins (1 shootout), 54 goals ... 3 draws
AT KANSAS CITY: (13 meetings): Wizards 5 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals ... Fire 6 wins (1 shootout), 26 goals ... 2 draws
The Wizards came back from an early goal to claim a 1-1 tie with the Fire on May 6 at Arrowhead Stadium - where both sides missed penalty kicks.
Chad Barrett put the Fire ahead after 18 minutes on a goal the Wizards felt had a hint of offside, racing in behind the Kansas City back four to latch onto a through ball from Chris Rolfe before knocking it home after going in alone on Bo Oshoniyi.
The Wizards missed a glorious chance to pull level in the first half, but Eddie Johnson saw his penalty saved by the Fire's Zach Thornton after Davy Arnaud was tripped up in the Chicago penalty area.
But Johnson made amends just after the start of the second half, swooping in to score on the rebound after Thornton was unable to hold an Arnaud shot following a nice one-two in the box.
Yet the Fire themselves wasted a terrific opportunity, when Justin Mapp was hauled down from behind in the box by Jack Jewsbury. But Oshoniyi saved Ivan Guerrero's try from the spot.
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-3-3): Bo Oshoniyi - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. (Matt Groenwald 87) - Jack Jewsbury (Alex Zotinca 80), Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine - Davy Arnaud, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff. [Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Jermaine Hue, Ryan Pore, Scott Sealy, Tyson Wahl]
Here's Dave Sarachan's team (4-4-2): Zach Thornton - Logan Pause, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Ivan Guerrero - Thiago, Chris Armas, Diego Gutierrez, Justin Mapp (Calen Carr 87) - Chris Rolfe (Nate Jaqua 62), Chad Barrett (Tony Sanneh 71). [Substitutes Not Used: Matt Pickens, Brian Plotkin, Dasan Robinson, Jack Stewart]
5/6: KC 1, CHI 1 (Johnson 48 - Barrett 18)
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards put an end to their five-game winless streak, claiming victory for the first time since April 29 in a 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on Saturday evening. The Wizards moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 11 matches, now three ahead of the Columbus Crew but still eight points adrift of MLS overall leader D.C. United.
The Wizards had scored one goal - and just one - in each of their last eight games, and were riding a five-game winning streak, while the Crew were coming off a quality win away to FC Dallas that followed the worst defeat in club history.
The teams were scoreless for 89 minutes until Matt Groenwald picked up a deflection on the right touchline and swung in a cross to the far post where Jose Burciaga Jr. ghosted in and flung himself forward, his header giving Kansas City the victory, the third in three meetings against the Crew this season.
It was a ninth consecutive game with a single goal for the Wizards, but their first victory since April 29 - also a 1-0 win against the Crew. The Wizards also claimed sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference, moving three points ahead of Columbus. Nine of those have come at the expense of the Crew.
Wizards head coach Bob Gansler made three changes to the team that came back to claim a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls the weekend before at Arrowhead Stadium. All three were given their first MLS starts - goalkeeper Will Hesmer coming in for Bo Oshoniyi, Tyson Wahl coming into the backline for Matt Groenwald and midfielder Lance Watson entering in place of Scott Sealy.
Here's Gansler's team (3-5-2): Will Hesmer - Tyson Wahl, Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia - Lance Watson (Matt Groenwald 74) Alex Zotinca, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Ryan Pore (Scott Sealy 46), Davy Arnaud. [Substitutes Not Used: Jack Jewsbury, Ryan McMahen, Yura Movsisyan, Bo Oshoniyi, Stephen Shirley]
"Winning is always important," said Gansler. "I'm not one of those individuals that says 'this is the biggest game of the season.' We are only one-third of the way through the marathon right now. ... But three points are three points."
The last time the Wizards have scored more than one goal in a game was also against the Crew, in the second week of the season. But over the last five games, one goal wasn't sufficient, Kansas City winless in that stretch since another victory against the Crew, 1-0 on April 29.
"We found a way to win. We've been close the last four or five games," Gansler said. "The soccer gods don't always give you what you deserve. I thought we played well enough to win. Being on the road makes us feel even better.
Of the three players making their MLS debuts, two - Wahl and Watson - were making their first professional starts. Hesmer started in a U.S. Open Cup match for the Wizards last year.
"We had quite a few first- and second-year players who were getting their opportunities," Gansler said. "I'm probably more thrilled than they are about their performance."
After starting the season with a 4-3-3 scheme, that had become a 4-4-2 in recent weeks, Gansler ran out his side in a 3-5-2 system, with Jose Burciaga Jr. allowed the freedom of the left flank.
"Coach knows what I am capable of going forward. He has the confidence that I will get back. It is just like playing a 4-4-2 but I get to start a little bit higher than usual," he said. "I thought our back line played extremely well today. We mixed it up a little bit and we knew what we had to do. We had to play the whole 90 (minutes). We battled and luckily we got the goal."
Since scoring in the season opener, Davy Arnaud has yet to again find the back of the net. His five shots on the evening brought his season-long shot total to 29.
"It's frustrating," Arnaud said. "As a forward you're there to score goals, and it is something that we haven't been doing a lot of lately. You keep grinding and getting chances and eventually one is going to go in."
"Davy scares the heck out of you, but he's just not a clinical finisher," said Gansler. "But for sure he needs to be accounted for. He's a very good young man who has got a heart as wide as his chest."
Sigi Schmid said his team might have been jaded by sitting around all day watching the World Cup. But Arnaud said it was no different for the Wizards. "That's all we did all day, was sit around the room and watch the World Cup," he said. "But I think once we get out here and get ready to play our game we know we still have to focus."
The Chicago Fire had almost made the first match in their new Toyota Park a perfect debut - until the New England Revolution scored two stoppage-time goals to leave the teams with a 3-3 draw on Sunday afternoon in Bridgeview. The Fire did stop a two-game losing skid and are still in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points from 10 matches, one ahead of the New York Red Bulls and one behind the Revolution.
The Fire finally had a home game after nine matches on the road while their new Bridgeview home was being completed, having lost two in a row to end the away run while the Revolution were coming in with a three-game winless streak of their own.
Nate Jaqua went into the history books as the first player to score in the new Firehouse, knocking home a rebound in the 39th minute after Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis failed to hold a Andy Herron blast. Then in the 79th minute, Jaqua doubled his and the Fire's haul in nearly similar circumstances, knocking home a bouncing ball in the box after a Gonzalo Segares cross from the left wasn't cleared.
But three minutes from the end, Taylor Twellman started the fireworks show - perhaps a little prematurely. Tony Lochhead whipped in a cross from the left, and Twellman flicked home a header to pull a goal back for New England.
A minute into four announced minutes of added time, Calen Carr scored his first professional goal, easily converting while all alone in the area to finish off a neat passing movement on the counter.
But three minutes into stoppage time, the Revolution once again cut the lead to one. Andy Dorman got to the byeline and pulled a rolling ball back for Steve Ralston, who knocked it home from the penalty spot. Then not even a minute later the Revs hit for the equalizer, a long ball corralled by Kyle Brown deep in the Fire penalty area, and he pulled it back for Dorman to drive home for the leveller.
Fire head coach Dave Sarachan made two changes to the team that lost 3-1 to Real Salt Lake the weekend before at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Leonard Griffin came back into the team in the back for Dasan Robinson, while Andy Herron got the start in attack in place of Chris Rolfe.
Here's Sarachan's team (4-1-3-2): Zach Thornton - Logan Pause, Leonard Griffin, C.J. Brown, Gonzalo Segares - Chris Armas - Thiago (Calen Carr 84), Brian Plotkin (Jack Stewart 68), Ivan Guerrero - Nate Jaqua, Andy Herron (Jared Montz 77). [Substitutes Not Used: Floyd Franks, Jeff Curtin, Justin Mapp, Matt Pickens]
"It was losing assignments, not killing the game,'' Sarachan said. "Maybe we had guys in there who weren't in that position before, but you know New England is going to throw balls in the box. We had to dig them out and do better. When you're up 3-1 in the 89th or 90th minute, you've got to win. What happened was inexcusable.''
The two-goal burst in stoppage time put a damper on the night's celebration. "Biggest embarrassment ever," said defender C.J. Brown. "It could have been a multitude of things. Guys weren't tracking, guys weren't winning balls, we weren't defending, we got caught in our heads, thought the game was over and New England kept playing. It was an embarrassment tonight."
For Jaqua, it was his second historic goal in a Fire uniform. He also scored the first goal for the Fire when the club returned to the renovated Soldier Field on Oct. 10, 2003.
His first goal against the Revolution was his first since June 29, 2005, and he'd been suffering through a series of injuries before returning to the starting lineup for the first time this season on May 27.
"It was great to get the first one. Better yet, it was in the first half and that gave us the confidence to put on the effort we did in the second half," he said. "Getting the first goal here was unbelievable. Having been hurt off and on, it felt great to produce for the team."
The ball that Jaqua knocked into the net for the first goal is going into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame, to be housed in the southeast corner of Toyota Park.
Jaqua was inserted into the starting lineup after a couple of injuries late in the week. Chris Rolfe suffered a mild concussion in training during the week, and Chad Barrett, Rolfe's partner in attack for the first six matches, was out with a groin strain.
The new stadium, was of course, the real star of the night. "We had a great 90 minutes. We were better on the counter attack and were finishing our chances. The fans were really great and we wanted to give them a win," said Fire captain Chris Armas. "With such a good atmosphere and environment, we had the makings of a special night and we were left with a sour taste in our mouth. These games come once in a while."