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Wizards tame Silverbacks in Atlanta

CLARKSTON, GA - The Kansas City Wizards cruised to a 4-1 win against the A-League's Atlanta Silverbacks in Clarkston, Georgia Tuesday Night in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. Davy Arnaud's two goals and one assist led the way as the Wizards advanced to the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament. Francisco Gomez and Diego Gutierrez each added a goal apiece as the Wizards poured on three second half goals after heading into the locker room tied 1-1 at halftime.

Kansas City immediately grabbed control of the match from the outset. The Wizards were able to string together pinpoint passes and wind their way through the Atlanta defense, but just missed on two early shots on goal, one from Francisco Gomez in the 3rd minute and another wide shot from Davy Arnaud in the 6th minute.

The Wizards precision passing and speed helped them jump out to the early lead. Francisco Gomez found Arnaud alone on the left flank in the 12th minute with a great ball from just right of center. Arnaud moved in on goal diagonally and let go of a wicked shot from towards the far post that beat Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Barton. The ball kissed off the far most and rolled across the goalmouth before tucking inside the near post giving Kansas City the early 1-0 lead.

After allowing the Wizards to have their way from endline to endline early in the first half, Atlanta turned up the pressure with a number of chances in front of the Wizards goal late in the first period, led by former MLS midfielder Alex Pineda Chacon. Chacon took a side volley shot from just in front of the goal in the 34th minute that Wizards 'keeper Tony Meola could only punch away. Meola again had to work in the air on the ensuing corner kick, punching it out of the box.

Atlanta knotted the score in the 40th minute on a set piece goal from Chacon. After getting fouled outside the top of the Wizards box, Chacon set up an angled freekick from 20 yards out on the left side. His bullet ricocheted through the center of the Wizards wall and quivered towards the far post, catching Meola leaning the opposite direction. The ball settled into the back of the net evening the score a 1-1 with five minutes left in the first half.

Kansas City took the initiative in the opening stages of the second half, resuming their grip on the momentum and playing like team that began the match. In the 52nd minute, Davy Arnaud collected his second goal of the match tapping in a loose ball in front of the box after a Chris Klein corner kick. Jimmy Conrad got the initial touch on the floating ball inside the box, but it was Arnaud that put the ball away after falling at his feet.

Two minutes later, Arnaud set up the Wizards third goal of the match with a beautiful cross from the right side to Francisco Gomez on the left, just outside the top of the box. Gomez leapt to take the ball out of the air and sent a wicked one-time shot towards the far post, stunning Atlanta goalkeeper Joe Barton as the ball whizzed by him and into the back of the net.

The Wizards continued to pour on the pressure in the final minutes of the second half as Chris Klein had a 40-yard break away run, but his strike banged off the crossbar and back into play. Diego Gutierrez finished his opportunity in the 81st minute after collecting a nice lofted ball back to him near the top of the box from Chris Klein who was already deep into the Atlanta box. Gutierrez stepped around his defender and rocketed a right-footed shot inside the right post.

Kansas City played out the final minutes and walked away with the 4-1 victory. The Wizards will now host the Dallas Burn, who defeated Colorado 3-0, in the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, August 4th. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. CT at the Blue Valley Athletic Complex at 135th and Switzer.

Kansas City will return to MLS action this weekend when they host Western Conference rivals the Los Angeles Galaxy at Arrowhead on Saturday, July 24th. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT. First Place in the West will be on the line Saturday in one of the biggest matches of the year for both teams. The Wizards want fans to "Bury 'em in Blue" and encourage all fans attending Saturday's game to wear Wizard Blue and help cheer on the team in this important match. Saturday's match was originally scheduled for Saturday, August 27th, but was moved to July 24th. Fans can use their season tickets marked August 27th for admission to Saturday's match.

KCWizards.com Man of the Match - Davy Arnaud

2004 U.S. Open Cup - Fourth Round
Kansas City Wizards (MLS) at Atlanta Silverbacks (A-League)
Tuesday, July 20, 2004, 7:00 p.m. (CT)
DeKalb Memorial Stadium, Clarkston, GA
Weather - Muggy, 85 degrees

                        1       2       F 
Kansas City Wizards     1       3       4 
Atlanta Silverbacks     1       0       1
Scoring Summary: KC- Davy Arnaud (Francisco Gomez) 10'
ATL- Alex Pineda Chacon (Unassisted) 40'
KC- Davy Arnaud (Jimmy Conrad) 52'
KC- Francisco Gomez (Davy Arnaud) 54'
KC- Diego Gutierrez (Chris Klein) 81'
Kansas City Wizards (4-4-2): Tony Meola-GK (Bo Oshoniyi-71'); Nick Garcia, Taylor Graham (Alex Zotinca-46'), Jimmy Conrad, Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Francisco Gomez (Khari Stephenson-75'); Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff (Justin Detter-63')

Atlanta Silverbacks (4-4-2): Joe Barton-GK; Fred DeGand, Joe Afful, Alan Woods, Andrew Lewis; Jordy Broder (Velko Iotov-54'), Leslie Fitzpatrick (Philippe Gogoy-83'), John Ball, Alex Pineda Chacon (Gerry Quiroz-84'); Gary Brooks, Mac Cozier (Ivo Ilarionov-75')

Officials: Referee- Ricardo Venezuela
Assistant Referees- Richard Edy, Brian D'Amato
Fourth Official- Lawrence Rodriguez

Attendance - 2,212

                        KC              ATL 
Shots                   9               8 
Saves                   1               2       
Fouls                   10              14 
Corner Kicks            5               5       
Offside                 0               2 
Cautions: KC- Davy Arnaud (Reckless Foul) 40
KC- Tony Meola (Dissent) 43'
ATL- Gary Brooks (Reckless Foul)
KC- Alex Zotica (Delaying a Restart) 68'
ATL- Gary Brooks (Reckless Foul) 86'

Ejections: ATL- Gary Brooks (Second Yellow) 86'

Post Game Quotes:

Kansas City Wizards Head Coach Bob Gansler

On the game:
"No, we were not surprised (at how competative they were). Half of those guys (the Silverbacks) I have know, and guys like Andrew Lewis I have coached. Half of their starting lineup has been in MLS. The difference between MLS and the A-League is not that large and there are good players down here. We came out and played well and had our foot on the throttle. When we took it off, they took it to us and they were the better team the second part of the first half."

"If we play as well as we can and they play as well as they can, we'll win. But if we are one iota below our peak and they play well like they have all year long, then things would be different. It is the speed of play that is the difference. They have six or seven guys that can keep up with that tempo and we have 11 guys that can keep up with that tempo."

On the team's adjustment's at halftime:
"We just adjusted some heads. As I said, the difference between the two leagues - there is a gap, but not a gulf. We put it in cruise control and you can't play against the better teams in the A-League on cruise control. After the first goal, we let off the accelerator. Bit we got the second goal early in the second half and the third goal was colossal, it had that death nail effect because not only was it a goal, but it was a well worked out goal and well finished."

Kansas City Wizards Forward Davy Arnaud

On facing an A-League opponent in the Open Cup:
"We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in. For the guys here in the A-League, this is their one chance to play a MLS team this year so we knew they were going to be revved up and ready to play. So we had to come out and just match their intensity and their fight and try to get the win."