Wizards, Fire reach scoreless draw

Try as they might, neither the Kansas City Wizards nor the Chicago Fire could find their way to a goal on Saturday night as the 2004 Major League Soccer opener for both teams ended in a scoreless draw at Arrowhead Stadium.

Dogged defending was the order of the day as the teams combined for 36 fouls. The closest either team came to hitting the back of the net occurred in the 73rd minute when Diego Gutierrez's shot from outside the area deflected off the outside of the Chicago's post with Fire goalkeeper Henry Ring beaten.

0 - 0
The Wizards controlled much of the play throughout the first hour, and certainly owned the best chances of the first half. Josh Wolff blazed a shot over the top from close range after just eight minutes, then brought out a fine diving save from Ring at 38 minutes. Kerry Zavagnin then tested the young Chicago 'keeper just before the halftime break with a long-range effort that Ring tipped over the bar.

The second half provided a bit more action, with the game bursting to life shortly after Gutierrez's near score. After a fracas on the touchline around a throw-in, Kansas City's Chris Klein and Chicago's C.J. Brown were both ejected, leaving each team a man down. Minutes later, the Wizards' Francisco Gomez was left unmarked at the spot, but he hammered his shot well over the crossbar.

Ante Razov's introduction into late in the game, gave the Fire attack more bite. Damani Ralph slipped in behind the Wizards back four and cut back inside a retreating Alex Zotinca, but his looping shot sailed outside the far post.

Minutes later, Razov found himself behind the Wizards rearguard, but Shavar Thomas tackled him from behind before he could uncork a shot. Razov made a half-hearted appeal for a penalty, but referee Erich Simmons wasn't moved and the game dwindled to a draw.

MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Henry Ring (Chicago Fire); Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards)

Chicago Fire -- Henry Ring, Evan Whitfield, Jim Curtin, C.J. Brown, Kelly Gray, Chris Armas, Andy Williams, DaMarcus Beasley, Damani Ralph, Nate Jaqua, Justin Mapp (Ante Razov 66).

Substitutes Not Used: D.J. Countess, Leonard Griffin, Logan Pause, Dipsy Selolwane.

TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Damani Ralph 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Nate Jaqua 1); FOULS: 14 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Ante Razov 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Andy Williams 1); SAVES: 5 (Henry Ring 4)

Kansas City Wizards -- Tony Meola, Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia, Chris Klein, Diego Walsh (Francisco Gomez 46), Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff.

Substitutes Not Used: Jose Burciaga Jr., Justin Detter, Taylor Graham, Will Hesmer, Jack Jewsbury, Bo Oshoniyi, Matt Taylor.

TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Francisco Gomez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (5 tied with 1); FOULS: 22 (Alex Zotinca 6); OFFSIDES: 1 (Josh Wolff 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Diego Walsh 2); SAVES: 1 (Tony Meola 1)

Misconduct Summary:
KC -- Alex Zotinca (caution; Reckless Foul) 20
KC -- Diego Gutierrez (caution; Reckless Foul) 59
CHI -- Chris Armas (caution; Tackle from Behind) 60
CHI -- C.J. Brown (ejection; Violent Conduct) 74
KC -- Chris Klein (ejection; Violent Conduct) 74

Referee: Erich Simmons
Referee's Assistants: Nathan Clement; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Ali Saheli
Attendance: 20,229
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear-and-53-degrees