KANSAS CITY WIZARDS vs D.C. UNITED
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
7:30 pm CT (HDNet; CSN)
If last weekend's results are any indication, it could be an old-fashioned Wild West shootout just a little bit East of Dodge City. The Kansas City Wizards hung five goals on the Dallas Burn for the second consecutive season, scoring four in the final 20 minutes to claim a big victory at Arrowhead Stadium and keep pace atop the Western Conference. But D.C. United shook off their scoring woes with a six-goal performance against the MetroStars - who had also allowed five goals earlier in the season - to claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference at the halfway point.
REFEREE: Marcel Yonan. SAR (bench): Nathan Clement; JAR (opposite): George Gansner; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 46 games; FC/gm: 29.3; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 7; pens: 15
Games involving Wizards: P13 W6 L4 T3; FC/gm: 27.2; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 3; pens: 4
Games involving United: P10 W6 L2 T2; FC/gm: 31.8; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 0; pens: 6
INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Preki (L fractured fibula/L dislocated ankle); FW Igor Simutenkov (L torn Achilles tendon); PROBABLE: DF Shavar Thomas (L ankle sprain) ... D.C. UNITED - OUT: FW Santino Quaranta (adductor surgery); FW Thiago Martins (L lateral meniscus tear); FW Eliseo Quintanilla (R fractured fibula) ...
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Josh Wolff, Kerry Zavagnin (USA; July 11 v Poland) ... DC: Bobby Convey (USA; July 11 v Poland)
YELLOW PERIL: DC: Dema Kovalenko (18 CP); Alecko Eskandarian (20 CP) ... KC: Nick Garcia (10 CP in 2 gms); Diego Gutierrez (19 CP); Alex Zotinca (19 CP)
This is the last of the two meetings between the teams this season. United won the first one, a 1-0 victory on May 15 at RFK Stadium.
A bit of vintage genius from Jaime Moreno finally unlocked a well-organized Wizards defense. With the match dwindling toward a scoreless draw 15 minutes from time, Moreno took off on a mazy run through the Wizards midfield before sliding a perfectly-placed shot inside Tony Meola's left post from the top of the area.
Here's Peter Nowak's team (3-1-4-2): Nick Rimando - Bryan Namoff, Ryan Nelsen (Mike Petke 73), Brandon Prideaux - Brian Carroll - Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko, Ben Olsen (Alecko Eskandarian 37), Joshua Gros - Ronald Cerritos (Freddy Adu 66), Jaime Moreno
Here's the team Bob Gansler put out (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca (Diego Walsh 81), Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Diego Gutierrez - Chris Klein, Jack Jewsbury, Kerry Zavagnin, Francisco Gomez (Matt Taylor 71) - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff.
A year ago, the teams played three games with all going to extra time, the Wizards winning the first before they played to a pair of draws. Preki scored in all three matches for the Wizards.
Kansas City won 3-2 on Opening Day (April 12) at Arrowhead Stadium thanks to a Chris Brown golden goal (Preki 3, Klein 61, Brown 92 - Petke 36, Quaranta 45), then the teams played to a pair of 1-1 draws at RFK Stadium, on May 17 (Etcheverry 31 pen - Preki 6) and on the final day of the season, Oct. 25 (Stoitchkov 57 - Preki 17).
United's win in the first game was their first in seven meetings in the series, their first since April 20, 2002 when they claimed a 2-1 golden goal victory. Three of the last five meetings between the clubs have been draws.
From 1998-2001, the Wizards won just once in eight meetings over that four-year stretch. United won six of those contests, the one draw when a match was abandoned at halftime when scoreless because of weather.
Preki has 10 goals, 11 assists for his career v United; 9 goals, 10 assists while in Kansas City to lead the club's all-time charts. Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 2 assists against United, but just 1 assist while with Kansas City. Of current Wizards players, only Chris Klein has more than one goal while in K.C. (2 goals, 1 assist).
Ezra Hendrickson leads current United players with 4 goals, 4 assists v Kansas City, but none of those have come while with D.C. Dema Kovalenko has 3 goals, 3 assists v the Wizards, but just 1 assist has come with United. The leader among current D.C. players with points while with United is Santino Quaranta (3 goals).
Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. KC: P1 W1 L0 T0 ... Bob Gansler v DC: P14 W4 L6 T4
ALL-TIME (22 meetings): Wizards 8 wins (0 shootout), 41 goals ... United 10 wins (1 shootout), 35 goals ... 4 draws
AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM (10 meetings): Wizards 7 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals ... United 3 wins (1 shootout), 15 goals ... 0 draws
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Davy Arnaud hit for his first career hat trick as the Kansas City Wizards scored four goals over the final 18 minutes against a 10-man Dallas Burn.
Arnaud rifled the Wizards into the lead in the 22nd minute, finishing off a lethal counterattack from just inside the area. Jason Kreis then scored the 90th goal of his MLS career, neatly scoring after a turn left his marker in his wake to equalize for the visitors.
But then just before the half Kreis was sent off by referee Richard Heron after appearing to elbow Kerry Zavagnin, and though it took a while, the Wizards took full advantage. Chris Klein hit the back of the net with a 20-yard rocket (72), then three minutes later Josh Wolff headed home to finish off a goalmouth scramble.
Arnaud then got the Wizards' fourth in the 79th minute, dribbling around a pair of defenders at the top of the box before slipping a low past Burn 'keeper Jeff Cassar, before finishing off his night with another fine low strike off a solo after taking advantage of a poor clearance (90).
"In a lot of cases, the team that's a man down ends up winning," Wizards coach Bob Gansler said. "We talked about not letting down at halftime. It was just a matter of re-energizing and moving forward.
Arnaud's hat trick was the third in Wizards club history, but the first since 1998, when both Digital Takawira (May 16 at New England) and Preki (Sept. 6 v. San Jose) hit for a triple. He was named MLS Player of the Week in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association for his performance.
It was the Wizards first home game since June 2, and they returned from their travels with a five-match unbeaten string, winning three matches and drawing two. In their last home game before the extended road swing, Kansas City lost 3-2 to the New England Revolution.
Wizards coach Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that held on for a 1-1 draw away to the San Jose Earthquakes a week earlier. Taylor Graham made his first league start, coming in for Shavar Thomas, ruled out with an ankle sprain, while Diego Walsh started in midfield for the suspended Diego Gutierrez.
Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca (Matt Taylor 64), Jimmy Conrad, Taylor Graham, Nick Garcia - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Walsh (Francisco Gomez 46), Jose Burciaga Jr. (Jack Jewsbury 84) - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff.
Chris Klein was named MLS Player of the Month for July. He recorded six assists in five games for the month, as Kansas City went undefeated on a five-match road swing.
The Kansas City Wizards hung a 5-1 scoreline on the Dallas Burn for the second consecutive season at Arrowhead Stadium, running their unbeaten run to six matches in their first home game in a month. The Wizards remained in second place in the Western Conference with the victory, now on 25 points from 15 matches, two behind the MLS pacesetters Los Angeles Galaxy.
The MetroStars' misery continued as United scored six goals in a league match for the first time since the inaugural season, when they put six past Dallas (July 7, 1996).
Eddie Gaven actually gave Metro the lead (18) when he beat the United offside trap and chipped D.C. 'keeper Troy Perkins with aplomb. But then Ryan Nelsen headed home a freekick (30) to pull United level, then Jaime Moreno got a most unexpected go-ahead goal, stripping Metro 'keeper Jonny Walker in the area before tapping into an empty net.
Alecko Eskandarian then continued his run of form with his first of two goals on the day, hammering home a Dema Kovalenko cross from close range to finish off a wonderful movement to give United a two-goal halftime lead. After the break, Earnie Stewart then unlocked the Metro offside trap before driving a shot home between Walker's legs (57).
Fabian Taylor slipped a shot home from inside the six after Eddie Gaven had done all the hard work battling through the United defense (63), but Eskandarian's second restored the three-goal margin (69), again driving into the goalmouth to convert for his fifth goal in three games. Then in stoppage time, Ben Olsen hammered a free kick through the MetroStars wall to close out the scoring.
"Right now, we're the best team in the Eastern Conference," United coach Peter Nowak said. "We have to keep our feet on the ground, but we're not going to give up first place so easily right now."
Nowak - who was confirmed as the head coach of the Eastern Conference in the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game in his rookie season thanks to the victory - made just one change to the team that drew 1-1 away to Dallas Burn the previous weekend.
Captain Ryan Nelsen returned to the lineup in the center of the back three, coming in for Ezra Hendrickson. There was also a tactical shift: Bobby Convey moving into a deep-lying attacking role behind the front two.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Troy Perkins - Bryan Namoff, Ryan Nelsen, Mike Petke (Ezra Hendrickson 57) - Earnie Stewart (Joshua Gros 65), Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Dema Kovalenko - Bobby Convey (Freddy Adu 82) - Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno
United has now scored 10 goals in their last three matches after scoring 12 in their first 12 games combined. "Since Day One, we've been dangerous and have had a lot of chances," said Eskandarian. "It was just a matter of putting them away, and (against the MetroStars) that's what we did."
In recent weeks, United had been auditioning candidates for the striking role, but Eskandarian recent performance has started to make the team rethink that plan. "We still want to make this team better," Nowak said. But "even if we bring [in] somebody, it's going to be hard to get into the first team."
D.C. United extended their unbeaten run to four matches in the most impressive of fashions, equaling the club record for goals in a game in a 6-2 drubbing of arch-rivals MetroStars at RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, United ended the weekend in first place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from 15 matches, one ahead of the MetroStars as the top four teams are all separated by just four points.