Defending champs meet Des Moines

Park University, Parkville, Mo.; 7 p.m. CT

The 2004 U.S. Open Cup champion take on this year's Cinderella to begin defense of their crown on Wednesday. The Kansas City Wizards won the Dewar Trophy for the first time a year ago against the Chicago Fire, and this year open defense against PDL's Des Moines Menace, the only amateur side left in the competition at the final 16. They have knocked off USL First Division clubs in back-to-back matches to reach the fourth round.

IN THE U.S. OPEN CUP: It took the Kansas City Wizards five tries to record their first victory in Open Cup play, but a year ago, they won their first-ever Open Cup crown. ... The Wizards came into the competition at the quarterfinals in 1996, but lost to Colorado Rapids. After the '96 loss, Wizards lost to lower division competition in 1997 (1-2 to San Francisco Bay Seals, D3), 1998 (1-3 to Nashville Metros, A-League) and 2000 (on penalties to Chicago Sockers, PDL). ... Kansas City's previous best success in the Open Cup came in 2002, when they defeated the Rochester Rhinos 3-2 away in the third round in a stunning comeback, then defeated Milwaukee (A-League) 2-0 in the quarterfinals before falling to Columbus Crew 3-2 through a golden goal. ... In 2003, the Rapids defeated the Wizards 3-2 in the fourth round, the fifth time in their first seven appearances in the competition they were dumped out at the first hurdle. ... Last year's quarterfinal victory was the first time in four tries that the Wizards defeated an MLS opponent in Open Cup play. They lost 3-2 to the Colorado Rapids in their first Open Cup match in 1996, also losing in 2001 to Chicago Fire in the third round, and in 2002 in the semifinals to Columbus Crew.

LAST YEAR: Igor Simutenkov was the hero of the Wizards' Open Cup run, scoring the game-winning goal in extra time with a 95th-minute golden goal to give K.C. the Dewar Trophy with a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire at Arrowhead Stadium. Here's the Cup-winning team: Meola, Zotinca, Conrad, Garcia, Burciaga, Gomez (Simutenkov 46), Jewsbury (Graham 68), Zavagnin, Gutierrez, Wolff, Arnaud ... Simutenkov knocked home a penalty for the only goal of the game in the semifinals as the Wizards defeated the San Jose Earthquakes at home in the semifinals. ... The Wizards passed their first test in the U.S. Open Cup for just the third time in eight appearances, hitting back with two goals in two minutes early in the second half to ease past A-League side Atlanta Silverbacks 4-1 in the fourth round (Pineda Chacon 40 - Arnaud 10, 52, Gomez 54, Gutierrez 81) ... The Wizards then advanced to the semifinals for the second time in three seasons when they hammered the Dallas Burn 4-0 at home (Klein 52, Arnaud 57, Detter 73, Zotinca 88)

IN THE U.S. OPEN CUP: This is the third time the Menace have been in the Open Cup tournament proper, and the first time they have faced an MLS side. In 2002, Des Moines won their first game in the tournament, defeating the D3 Pro League's New Jersey Stallions 3-1 in the first round before losing to the Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-2 in extra time in the second round. In 2003, they were shocked by amateur side Bavarian SC of Milwaukee in the first round, a 2-1 loss in extra time.

THIS YEAR: The Menace have been one of the Cinderella stories of this year's Open Cup thus far. In the first round, they defeated USL Second Division side Pittsburgh Riverhounds on penalties after playing to a 1-1 draw in extra time, the teams trading goals after the 90 minutes were complete (Biggerstaff 111 - Victor 101). Then in the second round, the PDL side pulled off a massive shock, defeating USL First Division side Charleston Battery (a semifinalist a year ago) in a 3-2 result (Boltnar 8, Musang 14, Mujdzic 80 - Simmonds 60, Alavanja 65). In the third round, the Menace thrashed another USL1 side, defeating the Atlanta Silverbacks 5-1 on the road (Hayes 33 - Kreikmeyer 8; Boltnar 12 pen; Krause 26, 51; Disang 50). It's the first time in three years an amateur team has reached the fourth round of the USOC.

FORM GUIDE: The Menace have reached the final four of the PDL, after winning the Central Conference playoffs last weekend. They finished second in the Heartland Division with 37 points from their 16 league matches, three behind Boulder Rapids Reserve. In the first match of the Central Conference playoffs, they defeated Chicago Fire Premier - which lost just once during the season - then took out the Michigan Bucks 4-1 in the conference final. They will take on Western Conference winner Orange County Blue Star - holders of the PDL's best record this year - in the semifinals next Sunday at home at Waukee Stadium.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.