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COLORADO RAPIDS vs KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
INVESCO FIELD at MILE HIGH
7:30 pm MT (HDNet)
The Colorado Rapids are hoping their annual Fourth of July Extravaganza jumpstarts their season, while the visiting Kansas City Wizards are hoping to pull off a rare victory on the day to do the same. The Rapids have lost just once in nine Independence Day games at home, but come into the match off back-to-back losses and with just two wins over their last nine games. The Wizards haven't been able to get untracked this season, a midweek draw against the Columbus Crew their fourth in their last six games and MLS-high seventh of the campaign.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Terry Vaughn
MLS Career: 30 games; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 2; pens: 10
Games involving Rapids: P5 W1 L3 T1; FC/gm: 33.0; Y/gm: 4.2; R: 0; pens: 2
Games involving Earthquakes: P7 W2 L1 T4; FC/gm: 31.3; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 1; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: MF Matt Crawford (R quadriceps strain); PROBABLE: MF Terry Cooke (R knee) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MF Diego Walsh (athletic pubalgia)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: COL: MF Pablo Mastroeni (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ... KC: FW Josh Wolff, DF Jimmy Conrad (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ...
WARNINGS: COL: MF Guy Melamed (18 CP); FW Alain Nkong (16 CP); DF Mike Petke (19 CP) ... KC: MF Kerry Zavagnin (10 CP in 2 gms)
HEAD-TO-HEAD With the move of the Wizards to the Eastern Conference, the two teams meet just twice this season in league play, and this is their second encounter, the only one set for Denver.
ALL-TIME (36 meetings): Rapids 13 wins (3 shootout), 49 goals ... Wizards 17 wins (1 shootout), 66 goals ... 6 draws
AT DENVER: (18 meetings): Rapids 10 wins (2 shootout), 31 goals ... Wizards 4 wins (1 shootout), 24 goals ... 4 draws
LAST MEETING The teams opened the season against each other at Arrowhead Stadium on April 2, and the Fernando Clavijo era didn't begin as the Colorado Rapids might have hoped, the Kansas City Wizards hanging on for a 3-2 victory.
The Wizards took a 2-0 lead into the halftime interval with a pair of goals in a six-minute span, Josh Wolff latching onto a long ball from Sasha Victorine before coolly hammering home an angled drive (34), then Jack Jewsbury pounding home a rebound of a blocked Wolff shot from just inside the penalty area (40).
The Rapids pulled a goal back through new signing Jeff Cunningham, who powerfully headed home a Chris Henderson cross (54), yet the Wizards restored their advantage when Wolff ran at the Colorado defense before freeing Chris Klein on the right, and he slotted home inside the far post (61).
The visitors caused some tense moments when they again cut the lead to one through Mark Chung, who ran onto a ball poked into the Wizards box and ripped a scorching drive past Bo Oshoniyi (81), but the Wizards held out for the win.
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Sasha Victorine, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein (Scott Sealy 81), Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Jack Jewsbury (Alex Zotinca 70) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud.
Here's the team Fernando Clavijo sent out (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Hunter Freeman, Nat Borchers, Guy Melamed, Ritchie Kotschau - Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman, Pablo Mastroeni (Alain Nkong 46), Martin Morales (Mark Chung 61) - Jean-Philippe Peguero (Jeff Cunningham 53), Wolde Harris
HISTORY A year ago, the Wizards won three of the four meetings between the two teams. Kansas City didn't allow a goal in winning the first two meetings. The Wizards won 2-0 on May 1 at Arrowhead despite playing a man down for more than a half (Klein 64, Wolff 84), then 1-0 in Denver in June 9 behind a Wolff penalty (92+).
The Rapids claimed a 3-1 victory in the Mile High City on Sept. 10 (Chung 24 pen, Cila 60, Beckerman 92+ - Wolff 11 pen), but the Wizards rebounded two weeks later in K.C. behind an Igor Simutenkov 55th-minute goal.
The Wizards have won five of the last six league meetings between the clubs. In all competitions, they haven't lost to Colorado in their last nine meetings, including a pair of games in the MLS Cup Playoffs and a U.S. Open Cup meeting.
Colorado hasn't won in five matches in Kansas City, having lost the last three after a 2-2 in their first Arrowhead meeting in 2003. The Rapids last win at Kansas City came Sept. 14, 2002.
Coaches record: Fernando Clavijo v KC: P5 W1 L4 T0 ... Bob Gansler vs. COL: P21 W9 L8 D6
The Colorado Rapids saw a late goal condemn them to defeat for the second consecutive match, this time a 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening at Spartan Stadium. The Rapids are still in fourth place in the Western Conference with 14 points from 16 matches, now 10 behind joint second-place Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes but still two ahead of fifth-place Real Salt Lake.
The Earthquakes also extended their club-record home shutout streak to 506 games with the victory, as both 'keepers did their part to try and ensure neither team would find the back of the net on the night.
Earthquakes 'keeper Pat Onstad was credited with four saves on the night, a couple of fine stops over the final half-hour. But he had no answer for a long-range looping blast from Jeff Cunningham in the 10th minute - only to see it come back off the base of his right-hand post. Early in the second half, a Ricardo Clark blast caromed off the woodwork for San Jose.
But two minutes from full time the home side hit home, Brian Mullan and Julian Nash playing a neat one-two on the right before Mullan slipped a through ball to Dwayne De Rosario in the right side of the area. He hammered a drive inside the near post that beat Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon for his second goal of the season.
Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo made two changes to the team that saw FC Dallas score twice in the final five minutes for a 3-1 win the previous Saturday in Denver. Leo Cullen and Guy Melamed (back from suspension) came into the midfield with Pablo Mastroeni on national team duty and Jean-Philippe Peguero returning to the substitutes' bench, as Clavijo went with five in the midfield though with Alain Nkong and Luchi Gonzalez as forward-ranging wide midfielders.
Here's Clavijo's team (4-3-2-1): Joe Cannon - Ricky Lewis, Nat Borchers, Mike Petke, Eric Denton (Wolde Harris 89) - Leo Cullen, Guy Melamed, Kyle Beckerman (Ritchie Kotschau 52) - Alain Nkong (Jean Philippe Peguero 71), Luchi Gonzalez - Jeff Cunningham
"Definitely not happy about it. The idea from the beginning was that we want to make the playoffs, and not only make the playoffs but be competitive to make a run for the championship," Clavijo said. "I'm disappointed. We played 89 minutes again. We had a game plan that we executed. We had incredible chances, with the goalkeeper one-on-one, and we miss it. I'm disappointed. Every game something happens that causes a goal. Today was one key example on how things happen and things don't go our way."
TEAM NEWS For the Rapids, their annual Fourth of July home game has been quite successful - and also been high drama. They've won eight times in nine matches at home on Independence Day, also marked by huge crowds for the post-match fireworks extravaganza - and seven of the game-winning goals have come after the 70th minute.
A year ago there was a wonderful story, the game's lone goal coming as Cuban striker Alberto Delgado claimed his first MLS goal, just months after joining the team. He defected from Cuba following the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
For Clavijo, the match is also important for what it can to kick off the second half of the Rapids season. "Unfortunately, our play has not decided our result. And that's the thing that's just getting me really frustrated. We have 16 more games and 48 points at stake. We need to ...continue creating those chances in the second part of the season, but the frustrating part for me is when I look back on the first 16 games, seven of those games have been one-goal differences and a lot of the time the mistake has been made by someone else. And that dictates the result. We're still where we want to be. We're still in the race of the playoffs, so that has to be what we concentrate on the rest of the games we have ahead."
Pablo Mastroeni missed the San Jose match, meaning that over the last 11 Colorado matches, he's played in just four - and in two of those, he lasted barely a quarter-hour with an injury suffered in the game. He could miss the next four matches while with the U.S. national team.
"We've been suffering throughout the year with Pablo, with the national team, with suspension, with injury," Clavijo said. "He is in and out of the lineup. But he is our leader."
Clavijo said Matt Crawford's right quadriceps injury likely will end his season. The midfielder, who has played in only four games and started three, has missed the past four games.
The Rapids acquired a permanent youth international slot from Real Salt Lake in exchange for the rights to Adolfo Gregorio, a 2004 draft pick who played last year in England. If Gregorio signs with Real Salt Lake before Dec. 31, Real will surrender their first-round pick in the 2007 supplemental draft to the Rapids.
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards were again left with the unsatisfying taste of a home draw, coming back to claim a 1-1 result with the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night at Arrowhead Stadium. It was a league-high seventh draw for the Wizards, still in third place in the Eastern Conference with 22 points from 15 matches, two ahead of the MetroStars but now seven behind the second-place Chicago Fire.
Both sides were left rueing chances missed and points lost after the match between the Lamar Hunt-operated clubs now together in the Eastern Conference.
The Crew were gifted the opening goal on 69 minutes, a cross from the left chested down by Wizards defender Jose Burciaga Jr. right into the path of Crew midfielder Simon Elliott in the area. His shot beat K.C. goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi - but not the post - but Mario Rodriguez came in behind to tap the ball into the unguarded goal.
But seven minutes later the Wizards pulled level through the industry of Preki, who came on to start the second half. He was clipped right at the top of the restraining arc while trying to split two defenders, and after a little tap on the ensuing restart, Burciaga ripped a tremendous blast through the wall and into the upper left corner.
Wizards boss Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that defeated Chivas USA 3-0 at home the previous Saturday, as both Jimmy Conrad and Josh Wolff had joined the U.S. national team in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Alex Zotinca came in at right back as Nick Garcia moved back centrally, and Scott Sealy was given the start in attack.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Alex Zotinca (Jack Jewsbury 62), Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine - Scott Sealy (Preki 46), Davy Arnaud
"The sad situation here is it is always a tale of two halves and we did it again tonight. In the first half, for a home team we didn't do enough. It has to be our ball and we have to be in charge. That has been the big stumbling block this year. We will come back from adversity and play well in the second half, but we have to control the game. We did well in the second half tonight, but games are longer than 45 minutes," Gansler said.
TEAM NEWS The Wizards have becoming increasingly frustrated by their draws - nearly half of their results this season. "We don't come out of the chute well enough. We know it; [the players] remind each other as well as I remind them. We can find a lot of other things to be upset about out there, but we've got to look at ourselves first. We just let ourselves down because this is home, this is our turf. We've got to come out and be in charge. That means we get it, we keep it - that means we work out possibilities, we get our shots," Gansler said.
It was the first goal Burciaga had scored outside of California. He had two MLS goals in Los Angeles, including his stunning strike in last year's MLS Cup Final, and also had one of his previous two league goals in San Jose.
"After hitting crossbars and posts throughout the years, I finally got a break, and thank God it went in," said Burciaga of his first goal at Arrowhead Stadium. "It's something we work on everyday in practice. As long as I get it on goal and make the goalkeeper make a save, it has a good chance of going in the back of the net."
Rebounding from his earlier error that gifted the Crew their opener was also a bright spot for Burciaga in Gansler's eyes. "He's a young man who is mature beyond his years in terms of playing this game. He knew there were some more plays left in that game, and he was going to put his stamp on it," said Gansler. "... The free kick obviously was a Hollywood type of making up. But that's a bad decision, and he knows it. I don't think it will happen to him again."
Before last weekend's match, reserve forward Justin Detter announced his retirement at age 22, leaving the game to take a job as a computer specialist at a hospital in his Bay City, Mich. home. In his last game, a 3-1 reserve victory for the Wizards against the Chivas reserves, he scored the winning goal. "It was definitely a good way to go out," Detter said.