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KANSAS CITY, Mo.
3 pm CT (ESPN2)
It's the only Disney channel appearance for the Kansas City Wizards this season - unless they reach the 2004 MLS Cup Final - and they come in with another chance to take over top spot in the Western Conference having squandered a couple already. The defending MLS Cup champion Earthquakes had shown signs recently of turning around a disappointing campaign - yet still find themselves in last place in the West after a midweek loss. While this meeting is big, another 10 days from now could be bigger - the teams meeting in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal, with a first-ever Open Cup Final for either team on the line.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Ali Saheli
MLS Career: 19 games; FC/gm: 32.7; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 2; pens: 7
Games involving Wizards: P2 W1 L0 T1; FC/gm: 31.5; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving Earthquakes: P5 W2 L1 T2; FC/gm: 29.4; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - PROBABLE: MD Preki (L fractured fibula/L dislocated ankle); FW Josh Wolff (R knee inflammation) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); FW Jamil Walker (hip sprain); GK Steve Cronin (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Alex Zotinca (through Aug. 14)
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Landon Donovan (17 CP); Richard Mulrooney (17 CP)
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Wizards 13 wins (4 shootout), 40 goals ... Earthquakes 15 wins (3 shootout), 43 goals ... 5 draws
AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM (16 meetings): Wizards 9 wins (2 shootout), 25 goals ... Earthquakes 6 wins (2 shootout), 17 goals ... 1 draw
The two clubs play in the second of four meetings this season, the first of two in Kansas City. Their next league meeting is also scheduled for Kansas City (Sept. 18), before the season series concludes on Oct. 9 at Spartan Stadium. They'll also meet in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals in Kansas City on Aug. 24.
In their first meeting, the Wizards hung on for a 1-1 draw with the Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium on June 26. A terrific goal from Jose Burciaga Jr. just before the halftime break gave the Wizards the lead, ripping a drive from just inside the area on a pass from Chris Klein that threatened to rip the net off its moorings as it flashed past Pat Onstad.
But the Quakes pulled level 11 minutes from time when Richard Mulrooney hammered a drive from outside the area that sailed past Tony Meola's dive and under the crossbar.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart (Ronnie Ekelund 76), Ryan Cochrane, Craig Waibel, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ian Russell (Arturo Alvarez 69) - Landon Donovan - Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario
Here's Bob Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Taylor Graham 35), Nick Garcia - Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff.
Last year, the Earthquakes didn't lose in the season series - which also included a dramatic victory in the Western Conference championship. The first two meetings ended in draws, a 1-1 result on April 19 in San Jose highlighted by a bizarre own goal (Mullan 81 - Onstad og 74), then a scoreless draw in Silicon Valley on June 28.
The Quakes then won both games at Arrowhead Stadium, a 1-0 victory on Aug. 8 (Donovan 23), then a resounding 4-1 victory on Sept. 20 behind a Donovan hat trick (Donovan 26, 70, 90; Robinson 54 - Arnaud 59).
The teams then met Nov. 15 in San Jose for a place in the 2003 MLS Cup Final, the Quakes coming back to book passage in extra time as Brian Mullan equalized seven minutes before the final whistle, then Landon Donovan scoring near the end of the overtime period (Lagos 61, Mullan 83, Donovan 117 - Simutenkov 57, Klein 72).
Kansas City hasn't won in San Jose in seven league meetings - eight in all competitions - and just once over the past six seasons. That victory was a 3-0 win on Aug. 16, 2000, the final meeting between the teams that season.
Sixteen of the last 25 meetings between the clubs have involved shutouts - three of those scoreless draws. The losing team hasn't scored more than a single goal over that six-year stretch.
Landon Donovan leads current Earthquakes players with 4 goals, 1 assist against the Wizards - all of those goals scored last season. Dwayne DeRosario and Eddie Robinson have also scored 2 goals v Kansas City - De Rosario also with 4 assists. Brian Mullan has 3 goals, 1 assist against the Wizards, 1 goal, 1 assist while with the Earthquakes.
Preki leads the Wizards all-time chart against the Quakes with 11 goals, 9 assists - all but one goal while with Kansas City. Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 2 assists for his career against San Jose, but none while with the Wizards. Just five other current Wizards have goals v San Jose - all with one each (Chris Klein, Francisco Gomez, Davy Arnaud, Igor Simutenkov, Jose Burciaga Jr.).
Coaches record: Bob Gansler v SJ: P20 W7 L8 T5 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. KC: P1 W0 L0 T1
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards are the last to resume play after the All-Star break, having not played a league game in 17 days. The Wizards resume the final portion of the campaign in second place in the Western Conference with 32 points from 19 matches, a point behind the Los Angeles Galaxy but with two matches in hand. The Wizards failed on two attempts in four days to overtake the Galaxy before the All-Star festivities, losing 2-1 to the MetroStars in their last game. However, they've since advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 4-0 win against the Dallas Burn.
On July 28 at Arrowhead Stadium, the MetroStars took a 23rd minute lead when John Wolyniec rounded Wizards central defender Jimmy Conrad on the right wing and sent in a low ball for an unmarked Cornell Glen, who neatly sidefooted home past 'keeper Tony Meola.
But the Wizards leveled on 36 minutes after Eddie Pope was adjudged to have pulled back Davy Arnaud in the box, and Chris Klein stepped up to convert the penalty. In the 51st minute the Wizards won a second penalty when Tenywa Bonseu clipped Francisco Gomez from behind, but this time Walker saved Klein's spot kick.
The Metros made them pay when Guevara whipped a free kick over the wall from the edge of the area, curling a right-footed shot into the right upper corner of the goal past a helpless Meola for his ninth tally of the campaign.
Wizards coach Bob Gansler made four changes to the team that saw the Galaxy score twice late to claim a 2-2 draw at home the previous Saturday. Nick Garcia and Shavar Thomas returned from suspension, coming in for Alex Zotinca and Taylor Graham. Jack Jewsbury returned to the team for the suspended Diego Gutierrez, while Justin Detter came in for Josh Wolff, hampered by knee pain.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Alex Zotinca 73), Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Jack Jewsbury (Khari Stephenson 80), Kerry Zavagnin, Francisco Gomez - Justin Detter (Matt Taylor 59), Davy Arnaud
"The better team won tonight. They had the ball more, which isn't always an indication of the better team, but more often than not that is the case," Gansler said. "We were at our place and we wanted this last game before the break, but the last time I checked there were only two teams with nine wins and we are one of them. We have played well for two months and have now had two lesser outings. We thought we could do it with the folks we had, but tonight we came up short."
After the break, the Wizards returned to action on Aug. 4, advancing to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup for the second time in three seasons with a dominant 4-0 victory against the Dallas Burn in Overland Park, Kan.
Chris Klein's 52nd-minute started a blitz over the final 40 minutes that also saw goals from Davy Arnaud (57), Justin Detter (73) and Alex Zotinca (88). It was the third time over the past two seasons that Kansas City has defeated Dallas by four goals, winning by 5-1 scorelines earlier this season and in 2003.
Here Gansler's team on the night: Tony Meola; Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Kerry Zavagnin, Jose Burciaga Jr., Diego Gutierrez, Jimmy Conrad, Jack Jewsbury (Francisco Gomez 46), Chris Klein, Davy Arnaud (Alex Zotinca 85), Justin Detter (Matt Taylor 76)
Igor Simutenkov will be available for the Earthquakes match - called "fit and ready to go" by Wizards athletic trainer Chet North. Simutenkov, along with 2003 Honda MLS MVP Preki, have missed the entire season thus far with preseason injuries. But Preki, while listed as probable, is not expected to be available for at least another week.
The Wizards will now face the Earthquakes in the semifinals, the winner guaranteed of reaching the Open Cup Final for the first time in club history. They will play at the Blue Valley Athletic Complex in Overland Park on Tues., Aug. 24.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes saw their modest unbeaten streak snapped at three games, falling 2-1 to a 10-man Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Soldier Field. Yet the Quakes lost no real ground in the Western Conference, still in last place but still just two points out of a playoff-paying place, behind Colorado and Dallas and nine points adrift of West leaders Los Angeles Galaxy.
Andy Williams gave the home side a 41st-minute lead with a terrific first-time strike from outside the area, curling a ball chested down by Nate Jaqua inside Pat Onstad's right-hand post. But the Fire's celebration was short-lived, Logan Pause sent off for a studs-up challenge on Richard Mulrooney barely a minute later.
Referee Terry Vaughn was at the center of the action again midway through the second half, ruling that Denny Clanton tugged down Quakes striker Brian Ching in the heart of the area and giving the penalty, Ronnie Ekelund hammering the spot kick off the underside of the bar for the equalizer (76).
But just five minutes later the Fire scored the game-winner, Williams hitting a cross from the left flank and Onstad could flap at, Damani Ralph bundling it over the line at the far post.
"I am just upset at the way we played, especially when we had chances and opportunities to take control,'' Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear said. "I just am really disappointed tonight. It seems like every time we have a chance to get back on track in the Western Conference, we let that get away.''
Despite having both Landon Donovan and Troy Dayak back from suspension, Kinnear made no changes to the team that defeated D.C. United 2-0 at Spartan Stadium the previous Saturday - though he brought both on as halftime substitutes.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel (Arturo Alvarez 64), Ryan Cochrane (Troy Dayak 46), Jeff Agoos, Todd Dunivant - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Dwayne De Rosario (Landon Donovan 46), Brian Ching.
"We just missed a great opportunity. This was like getting a fastball right down the middle of the plate and fouling it off," Mulrooney said. "Unfortunately, that is soccer. We just need to make sure we are ready that the next time we get this opportunity, we hit it out of the park. There isn't a lot of time left, but we still have enough games to turn things around and make the most out of this season."