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Eastern Conference Championship

Wizards wary of A-League Atlanta

ATLANTA SILVERBACKS (A) v KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (MLS)

DeKalb Stadium, Clarkston, Ga., 8:00 p.m. ET

The Kansas City Wizards once again have a difficult test in their first U.S. Open Cup match, traveling to face the A-League Atlanta Silverbacks in their fourth-round match. The Wizards have lost in their opening match five times, including a year ago when they were drawn in an away match against the Colorado Rapids. But for the Silverbacks, it's just the second time they've reached the actual competition since MLS teams began entering.

ATLANTA SILVERBACKS

OPEN CUP HISTORY: This is the third time in club history Atlanta has appeared in the competition proper, the second since the start of MLS. In 2002, the Silverbacks defeated the PDL (fourth division) Memphis Express 2-0 in the second round before losing to the Dallas Burn 2-1 in the third round, thanks to a golden goal from . In 1995, the then-Atlanta Ruckus played in the Open Cup, defeating the USISL Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-2 in the first round, before losing 2-1 to eventual champion Richmond Kickers (USISL), as all four A-League teams in the competition (then the highest level of soccer in the USA) lost before the final.

2004 OPEN CUP: The Atlanta Silverbacks knocked off defending A-League champion Charleston Battery 4-2 on aggregate to win their Open Cup qualification series. The Silverbacks won 2-0 at home on May 8 (John Ball 67, Velko Iotov 85) before a Mac Cozier double in the return leg on May 15 secured passage to the competition itself (Cozier 43, 77 - Ted Chronopoulos 51, Greg Simmonds 69). ... In the third round, Atlanta escaped a trip to PDL (fourth division) Carolina Dynamo with a 3-2 golden goal victory thanks to a Philippe Godoy goal in stoppage time after the 30-minute extra-time session (Marcus Story 12, Steve Rhyne 90 - Alex Pineda Chacon 49, John Ball 75, Philippe Godoy 120+) ... Here's the team that David Vaudreuil ran out: Anthony Tokpah; Fred Degand, Andrew Lewis (Joshua Barton 116), Attila Bendegh, Adilson DeLima; Joseph Afful (Velko Iotov 77), John Ball, Leslie Fitzpatrick, Alex Pineda Chacon; Gary Brooks (Jordy Broder 46), Mac Cozier

2004 A-LEAGUE: The Silverbacks come into the match second place in the A-League's Eastern Conference, two behind the Rochester Raging Rhinos but tied for the second-best record in the league with 35 points from 17 matches. ... Mac Cozier, who spent part of the inaugural MLS season with the Columbus Crew, leads the Silverbacks with nine goals, three assists. His 21 points are fifth-best in the A-League. ... Atlanta spent last weekend in Puerto Rico, where they followed a scoreless draw in the first game with a 2-0 loss in the second to the Islanders. The scoreless draw snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Silverbacks, dating back to May 22. ... Here's the team that David Vaudreuil ran out: Joe Barton - Afful, Josh Barton (Lewis 42), Adilson, Woods - Broder, Fitzpatrick, Godoy (Pineda Chacon 53), Ilarionov (Degand 46), Quiroz (Brooks 48) - Iotov (Cozier 77)

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS

The Kansas City Wizards are looking to advance past their first Open Cup match for just the third time in eight appearances in the competition this year. ... A year ago, the Colorado Rapids claimed a 3-2 victory in Aurora, Colo. in the third round (Igor Simutenkov 10, 48 pen - John Spencer 39 pen, 67; Henderson 58). ... It took five tries for Kansas City to record their first victory in Open Cup play. The Wizards came into the competition at the quarterfinals in 1996, but lost 3-2 to the Colorado Rapids that year as well. ... After the '96 loss, Wizards lost to lower division competition in 1997 (1-2 to San Francisco Bay Seals, D3), 1998 (1-3 to Nashville Metros, A-League) and 2000 (on penalties to Chicago Sockers, PDL). ... The Wizards have met MLS competition three times in Open Cup play - and have yet to win. They also lost in 2001 to Chicago Fire in the third round, and in 2002 in the semifinals to Columbus Crew. ... Their best success came in 2002, when they defeated the Rochester Rhinos away in the third round in a stunning comeback, (Suarez 5, Wilson 63 - Fabbro 86, Simutenkov 90, Brown 105). They then defeated Milwaukee (A-League) 2-0 in the quarterfinals before falling to Columbus Crew 3-2 through a golden goal (Buddle 76; Perez 92+, 108 - McCarty og 2; Brown 62). ... Along with Colorado Rapids, the Wizards are the only current MLS teams to have a losing record all-time in U.S. Open Cup play.


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