Wizards, United clash for final time
a double from Alecko Eskandarian (19, 23) and an Alex Zotinca own goal (28) nosed United in front. Josh Wolff scored from the penalty spot (58) after Dema Kovalenko was sent off for an intentional handball, but United held out for their first MLS title.
United's victory in the first league meeting a year ago was their first in seven meetings between the teams, since a 2-1 win on April 20, 2002.
The Wizards have not lost in the last five meetings between the teams at Arrowhead Stadium, four wins followed by this year's draw. United's last win at K.C. came April 7, 2001, a 3-2 triumph.
Coaches record: Peter Nowak v KC: P5 W2 L2 T1 ... Bob Gansler vs. DC: P18 W6 L7 D5
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards built off their victory a week earlier in Washington, D.C., hitting early and often in a 3-2 victory against Real Salt Lake last Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Wizards kept sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference, now with 28 points from 18 matches, seven behind second-place New England Revolution and three ahead of D.C. United and MetroStars, in joint fourth place.
Real Salt Lake hadn't won in 10 games in all competitions, while the Kansas City Wizards were trying to win back-to-back games for just the second time on the season.
Scott Sealy gave the home side a dream start by being in the right place at the right time. Right back Brian Roberts got off a quick shot that beat D.J. Countess at his near post, but came back off the base of the post. But it bounced right to Sealy, who tapped into the empty goal from close range (8).
But Real pulled level just two minutes later, Chris Brown latching onto a poor clearance and striding into the area before hammering home a looping drive.
Yet the Wizards nosed back in front through bizarre circumstances. A corner was swung in from the left and Countess went out to play it. Under pressure from a trio of K.C. attackers, he slapped the ball back toward his own goal and a pair of Real defenders on the line just couldn't keep it from completely crossing (27).
Then Sealy doubled the lead with his second goal on the night after Preki skipped through three tackles as he meandered through the Real penalty area before sliding the ball to the rookie, who beat another defender before hitting a low shot to the back of the net.
Just before the break RSL got back to within one, a cross from Luke Kreamalmeyer from the left flank finding Jordan Cila at the near post, and he flicked a header home inside the back stick (44). But they could get no closer over the final 45 minutes.
Wizards boss Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that defeated D.C. United 1-0 at RFK Stadium the previous weekend. Brian Roberts made his first MLS start as Gansler returned to a back four, with Diego Gutierrez out of the midfield after suffering a rib injury in training leading up to the match. In addition, Preki came in to a wide midfield role as Jack Jewsbury returned to the bench, though Jewsbury came in for Preki at the halftime break.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Brian Roberts (Ryan Raybould 79), Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Preki (Jack Jewsbury 46), Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Chris Klein - Scott Sealy, Davy Arnaud (Ryan Pore 68).
"What we were talking about at halftime was to get control of this game. The way you control the game is, of course get the ball, but also get another goal," Gansler said. "In the first five minutes (of the second half) we probably had three or four opportunities. Davy [Arnaud] had two, Scotty [Sealy] had one and Kleiny (Chris Klein) had one. The most unfortunate guy tonight was Sasha [Victorine]. I think he hit every crossbar and every upright. He could have had three or four goals."
The Wizards ended the match with three rookies on the field, and four played in all. Ryan Raybould made his professional debut, coming on for Roberts, and the game ended with two rookies in attack in Sealy and substitute Ryan Pore.
"We trust all of them. It is just a matter of finding the right time and right situation to get them experience in front of a large crowd and when the game matters more than in the reserve league. Brian [Roberts] is a battler and a bulldog. We knew he was going to do OK, but he just ran out of gas at the end. Then Ryan Pore is a sniper. Davy was having no luck and we said Ryan is a pretty good sniper and we needed another fresh body in there. They are not rookies anymore. We are halfway through the year and they battle the starters in practice everyday. Quite often the backups prevail or give them as good as any of our opponents. They are ready," Gansler said.
Sealy now has four goals, tying him with Chris Rolfe for the lead among rookies. "You want to score that third one, but then again, you don't want to press," Sealy said. "I had a couple through balls from Kleiny and from Sasha as well. I was a little disappointed. But it's two goals, it's a 'W', it's three points - we'll take it."
Diego Gutierrez was held out of the match as a precaution, after an examination on Friday ruled out a fracture to a rib on the left side of his body. He participated in full training on Friday. "It happened about a month ago, and it just keeps getting worse and worse. It's something we want to address right now and not let it go any further," Gutierrez said.
D.C. United continued their up-and-down campaign, rebounding from a loss the week before with a scintillating performance in a 3-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night at RFK Stadium. Now winners of four of their last six, though they've traded wins and losses in their last four, United is tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with the MetroStars, both on 25 points from 17 matches, three behind Kansas City and 11 out of first place.
The Quakes hadn't lost since May 28 but had no answer for the dynamic duo of Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno as D.C. United rolled to a comprehensive defeat.
Gomez gave United the lead after 25 minutes when he hammered a skipping drive past Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad from all of 25 yards. Then United doubled their lead shortly after the break with a wonderful goal from Moreno. Josh Gros lifted a cross from the left and Moreno settled it on his thigh with his first touch before volleying home inside the post with his left foot with his second (50).
The duo then combined to kill off the match on 70 minutes. Freddy Adu knocked the ball to Moreno and continued his run, taking the attention of the entire Earthquakes back line. That allowed Moreno to find Gomez all alone in the heart of the area, and he neatly slid the ball past Onstad for his second goal on the night and eighth of the campaign.
United boss Peter Nowak made one change to the team that lost 1-0 to the Wizards the weekend before at RFK Stadium. Jaime Moreno returned from the ankle injury that kept him out of that match, replacing Jamil Walker in partnering Freddy Adu in attack.
Here's Nowak's team (3-4-1-2): Nick Rimando - Brandon Prideaux, Bobby Boswell, John Wilson - Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros (Steve Guppy 83) - Christian Gomez (Jamil Walker 73) - Freddy Adu, Jaime Moreno (Shawn Kuykendall 81).
"We all learned from our mistakes (last week)," said Nowak. "After the loss to Kansas City, this was a step in the right direction ... we stayed compact and organized, and we had Jaime back. ... We just want to move on and build something special after this game."
The forward trio of Moreno, Gomez, and Freddy Adu dictated the pace of the game and created the bulk of the scoring chances throughout. "We cannot forget about Jaime, Christian, and Freddy," Nowak said. "They did really well. By the third goal, Freddy took the attention from all these people and Christian was wide open."
The effervescent 16-year-old agreed with his coach's sentiment about the synchronous play among him, Moreno, and Gomez - and was optimistic that it was a sign of even more positive things to come.
"I think it's the beginning of a pretty big thing," Adu said with a smile. "Playing with guys like Jaime and Christian is great because they play the same style I feel like I play. They like to play the one- and two-touches and everything was just gelling tonight. ... Hopefully we can keep doing that for the rest of the season."
With his two goals, Gomez tied with Moreno for the team lead with eight - and is just one off the league lead held by Colorado's Jeff Cunningham. "I think its been good playing with Christian. The difference is there and they're two very different players," said Jaime Moreno, who has seven goals. "They're both smart. Christian is a little more about scoring goals than Marco, who was also a good player."
Said Nowak: "Christian is very dangerous all around the goal. He's a very special player for our team. Everyone trusts him with the ball. Players like him always make the right decision. They always play with the sense of (wanting) to do something special. I love players (like him) where every pass is correct, every move is correct. I need smart players, and Christian has fit in very well with us in the year he has been here. It is going to be his first All-Star game (this season) and he deserves it 100 percent."
The large lead allowed Nowak to make two notable substitutions. Winger Steve Guppy made his first appearance since April, while local boy Shawn Kuykendall made his MLS debut.
"Tonight we played with a lot of attitude," Rimando said. "We were upset about the loss at home (to K.C.). We felt like we didn't concentrate for a full 90 minutes last week, and we wanted to make sure that this week we did that and we played together as a team."