A first-time strike from Jack Jewsbury two minutes deep into second-half stoppage time capped a dramatic and exhaustive come back for the Kansas City Wizards, as they defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium to claim their Western Conference Semifinal series 3-2 on aggregate.
Needing to overcome a 2-0 deficit after their first-leg loss, the Wizards got the vital first goal midway through the first half from surprise starter Khari Stephenson, then an unfortunate own goal off the foot of Brian Ching just after the second half began levelled the aggregate score, setting the stage for Jewsbury's heroics.
The first surprise of the evening came before the match kicked off, as Wizards boss Bob Gansler inserted Jamaican youth international Stephenson into the midfield for his first professional start. The second surprise came with a last-minute scratch as Bo Oshoniyi was given the start in goal in place of the still-ailing Tony Meola.
Looking dangerous early -- and much different from the first leg last Sunday at Spartan Stadium -- the Wizards found San Jose's penalty box frequently. The most compelling chance came on a corner in the seventh minute as center back Jimmy Conrad rose up far post for the delivery, but his shot went awry.
In the 16th minute the Wizards attack threatened through Wolff who feigned left and went right to skillfully dart around two Quake defenders and create an opening in San Jose's box, but his meager attempt on goal was easily taken in by goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
The Earthquakes then had their best chance of the opening exchanges in the 24th minute, nearly killing off the series early when midfielder Landon Donovan evaded a Wizards defender and found free space and time at the top of the Wizards box. His low shot was pushed around the near post by outstretched Oshoniyi.
Nearly two minutes later, the match blew apart as Arnaud hared deep into the right corner of San Jose's box and laid back a poorly-placed ball for Jewsbury. Sliding to keep possession, the second-year midfielder knocked the ball to the burly Stephenson who quickly turned at the spot and fired a drive past Onstad and into the left side of the goal. It was the 23-year-old forward's first professional goal and halved the Quakes' lead on aggregate.
The significance of the strike was not lost on San Jose as they picked up their offensive drive. In the 38th minute Ching stripped Conrad and went in on goal while fending off defender Jose Burciaga Jr., but his rolling shot grazed the outside of Oshoniyi's right post.
Tempers flared in the 42nd minute as Donovan made his way past Kerry Zavagnin 40 yards from goal. The tenacious Wizards midfielder twice fouled Donovan to slow his momentum before referee Terry Vaughn blew his whistle. Pleading for a card on Zavagnin that was not given, Donovan was booked for dissent.
In the 48th minute, some misfortune from Ching put the Wizards two up on the night and level on aggregate. After a freekick was swung in from the left, San Jose failed to clear and the ball ended up on the foot of Wizards right back Alex Zotinca, who looped a ball into the box for Conrad. But Ching, running toward his goal, drove the cross past an astonished Onstad as he raced just ahead of Conrad.
Spraying the ball around and utilizing their skillful passing game, San Jose wasn't about to fade from the match and in the 75h minute nearly went back ahead on aggregate. Ching again was on the end of the chance after he was put through by a wonderful ball from Mulrooney, but his shot from ten yards out was put over the end line by Oshoniyi.
In the 85th minute, Kansas City's squad took a hit as Zavagnin limped off clutching his right hamstring. Diego Walsh took his spot and nearly scored seconds later, but his open shot to the right of Onstad was blocked at the last second by a sliding Dunivant.
One chance more would be all the determined Wizards would need though as two impact players for the Wizards down the stretch -- Simutenkov and Jewsbury -- had the last say in the 92nd minute. Receiving a ball from Burciaga, Simutenkov played for a cutting Jewsbury who hit a first time shot from inside the restraining arc that blistered off the inside of the left post and behind Onstad.
There were a couple of final tense moments for the Wizards as San Jose desperately threw everything forward in the final seconds, but this time it was the Earthquakes who saw a lead lost on the road in the second leg of a conference semifinal, the Wizards now earning the right to play host for the Western Conference Final next weekend.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jack Jewsbury (Kansas City Wizards)
San Jose Earthquakes (1-1-0) vs. Kansas City Wizards (1-1-0)
October 30, 2004 -- Arrowhead Stadium
KC -- Khari Stephenson 1 (Jack Jewsbury 1, Davy Arnaud 1) 26
KC -- own goal (Brian Ching) 48
KC -- Jack Jewsbury 1 (Igor Simutenkov 1, Jose Burciaga Jr. 1) 92+
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane, Todd Dunivant, Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Eddie Robinson 89), Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario (Ian Russell 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Brown, Jon Conway, Troy Dayak.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Brian Ching 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Richard Mulrooney 2); FOULS: 15 (Brian Ching 5); OFFSIDES: 6 (Brian Ching 5); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Jeff Agoos 4); SAVES: 4 (Pat Onstad 3)
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Alex Zotinca (Taylor Graham 89), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Khari Stephenson (Igor Simutenkov 69), Kerry Zavagnin (Diego Walsh 86), Jack Jewsbury, Josh Wolff, Diego Gutierrez, Davy Arnaud.
Substitutes Not Used: Justin Detter, Francisco Gomez, Will Hesmer, Matt Taylor, Shavar Thomas.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (3 tied with 2); FOULS: 21 (Davy Arnaud 5); OFFSIDES: 2 (Josh Wolff 2); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 4); SAVES: 4 (Bo Oshoniyi 4)
SJ -- Landon Donovan (caution; Dissent) 43
KC -- Jack Jewsbury (caution; Reckless Foul) 46+
KC -- Davy Arnaud (caution; Professional Foul) 56
KC -- Diego Gutierrez (caution; Reckless Foul) 78
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: -Chris Strickland; George Gansner
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-64-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.