KANSAS CITY, Mo.
7:30 pm CT (MSG)
Once again the Kansas City Wizards and MetroStars meet in a top-of-the-table clash at the Meadowlands, but both teams come into the contest grimly holding on to those positions. The Wizards fell 3-1 to then-last place Chicago Fire at midweek, their fourth loss in their last five league contests. But after three consecutive wins, the MetroStars haven't won in three matches, shutout twice before hanging on for a 1-1 draw last weekend with the Columbus Crew.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 27 games; FC/gm: 32.6; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 7; pens: 10
Games involving Wizards: P4 W0 L3 T1; FC/gm: 34.0; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 3; pens: 3
Games involving MetroStars: P6 W3 L3 T0; FC/gm: 31.8; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 2; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); MD Mark Lisi (R ankle sprain); MF Joselito Vaca (R MCL sprain) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MD Chris Klein (L knee torn ACL); GK Tony Meola (R Achilles tendon strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jimmy Conrad (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Kerry Zavagnin (USA, Sept. 4 v El Salvador) ... MET: Jonny Walker, Eddie Gaven, Eddie Pope (USA, Sept. 4 v El Salvador); Amado Guevara (Honduras, v Sept. 4); Craig Ziadie (Jamaica); Cornell Glen (Trinidad & Tobago)
SUSPENDED: MET: Amado Guevara (through Sept. 11); Mike Magee (through Sept. 4; 11 CP in 3 gms)
YELLOW PERIL: MET: Tenwya Bonseu (20 CP); Ricardo Clark (18 CP)
ALL-TIME (22 meetings): Wizards 10 wins (2 shootout), 30 goals ... MetroStars 9 wins (2 shootout), 26 goals ... 3 draws
AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM (12 meetings): Wizards 8 wins (2 shootout), 22 goals ... MetroStars 4 wins (1 shootout), 13 goals ... 0 draws
The clubs meet for the third time in three meetings this year, the second of two at Arrowhead Stadium, with the MetroStars having won the first two, once at each ground.
On July 28 at Arrowhead Stadium, in the final match before the All-Star break, the MetroStars claimed a quality 2-1 victory against the Wizards. 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.
Here's Bob 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
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-3-1-2): Jonny Walker - Tenywa Bonseu, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Tim Regan 89), Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee - Cornell Glen (Sergio Galvan Rey 71), John Wolyniec (Fabian Taylor 79).
The MetroStars won 1-0 on May 30 in the only meeting at Giants Stadium this season. The MetroStars finally broke down a stubborn Wizards defense, John Wolyniec diving to head home the rebound of an Eddie Gaven shot that came back off the face of the crossbar 17 minutes from time.
It was the MetroStars first victory at home in the series since 2001, the two Giants Stadium encounters over the previous two seasons each ending in draws.
But Kansas City has won just twice in the last 10 encounters between the teams, though three of those matches have ended deadlocked.
The losing team hasn't scored more than one goal in the series for the past five seasons.
A year ago, each team won once, with their third meeting a draw. The Wizards won 2-1 in Kansas City on June 7 (Arnaud 11, Wolff 28 - Magee 17), before they played to a scoreless draw in oppressive heat at Giants Stadium in a midweek matinee on Aug. 13. Then on Sept. 6, the MetroStars traveled to Arrowhead Stadium and came away with a 2-1 victory (Preki 79 pen - Mathis 45, 59).
Joselito Vaca leads current MetroStars players with 2 goals, 3 assists against the Wizards - but none have come with Metro. Of current Metros, only Mark Lisi (1 goal, 1 assist), John Wolyniec (1 goal) and Mike Magee (1 goal) have scored against the Wizards. The Metro career leader v Kansas City is Clint Mathis (6 goals).
Preki leads the Wizards all-time scoring table against the MetroStars with 6 goals, 12 assists - all but one goal while with in Kansas City. Josh Wolff has 3 goals, 3 assists for his career v Metro - just 1 goal while with the Wizards. Chris Klein has 3 goals, 1 assist against Metro.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley vs. KC: P19 W13 L5 D1 ... Bob Gansler v MET: P15 W7 L5 T3
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
Again presented with an opportunity to take over sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference, the Kansas City Wizards again fell short, falling 3-1 to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at Soldier Field. The Wizards are still tied atop the division and the MLS overall table, both teams now with 35 points from 23 matches - just two ahead of third-place Colorado and just four out of last place.
Andy Williams and Craig Capano scored goals four minutes apart midway through the second half to give the Fire a vital victory at home.
Justin Mapp gave the home side the lead on 23 minutes, after Andy Williams picked him out with a long diagonal ball from midfield. Mapp buried his angled shot from the left side of the area inside the far post for his second goal of the season.
But the Wizards pulled level just after the half-hour, Davy Arnaud's cross from the right flank finding Josh Wolff in the heart of the area who headed past Fire 'keeper D.J. Countess.
Yet desperately seeking to change their recent form, the Fire began to overrun the Wizards after the interval, finally breaking through in the 67th minute, when Mapp turned provider and Williams turned finisher, easily knocking home a cross from the right flank. Capano then capped the scoring on a nearly identical play, sweeping home a Mapp cross from the right.
The Wizards ended the night reduced to 10 men when midfielder Alex Zotinca was sent off for violent conduct after striking at Chicago's C.J. Brown with an elbow.
"They played better and were the better side. But what we couldn't handle was their speed out wide and, consequently, they were getting that and pinning us back. It is difficult when we had the ball to get enough stuff to go 90 yards. They had more energy for sure and they came at us more aggressively too," Wizards coach Bob Gansler said. "It is something we have seen before and something we have handled before and actually, in the first half we did handle it as we came back in the last 15 or 20 minutes."
Gansler made two changes to the team that knocked off the New England Revolution 2-1 at Gillette Stadium the previous weekend. Jose Burciaga Jr. came in at left back as Nick Garcia moved into central defense for the injured Jimmy Conrad. Jack Jewsbury also returned to the lineup for Kerry Zavagnin, away on national team duty.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Taylor Graham, Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Alex Zotinca, Diego Gutierrez, Jack Jewsbury (Francisco Gomez 71), Igor Simutenkov (Preki 46) - Josh Wolff (Matt Taylor 88), Davy Arnaud.
The Wizards won't have long to figure it out, as they will face the Fire again on Sept. 22 in the U.S. Open Cup Final. But at least that match will be at home and not in Chicagoland - the Wednesday victory means the Wizards still have yet to defeat the Fire on their home ground in nine tries, outscored 25-6.
"Regardless of whether we wouldn't have played the Fire once this year, or if we played them every week leading up to the Open Cup, it is going to be an intense match because of the stakes. It doesn't make it any more, it doesn't make it any less. It makes it extremely important and that is what it was even before tonight," Gansler said.
Said Bo Oshoniyi, who made his second consecutive league start for the Wizards: "I don't understand why we can't solve them here (in Chicago). We have the team to do it, we just couldn't get it done. Tonight it was a matter of who wanted it more and they showed they wanted it more."
Preki was a halftime substitute, two weeks after making his first and only previous appearance of the season, playing the first half against Columbus. "I might even need more surgery after the season to go in and clean everything up," he said. "(The leg's) as good as it can be right now. I'll just get through the season, then we'll see.
The MetroStars ended their two-game losing streak and maintained their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference, yet were still forced to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at Giants Stadium on Sunday evening. The Metros are still two points ahead of the Crew in the division with 33 points from 23 matches, though Columbus has a match in hand.
Status quo was maintained atop the East when the MetroStars and Columbus Crew settled for a frustrating 1-1 draw. The Metros took the lead after 21 minutes when Amado Guevara's wickedly bending free kick was tipped onto the bar by Crew 'keeper Jon Busch, but after he crashed heavily into the post, John Wolyniec was there to finally prod the rebound over the line from close range.
The Crew then leveled terms 14 minutes later when Kyle Martino was tripped up by center back Jeff Parke as he tried to burst between Parke and Eddie Pope in the area, Ross Paule converting the spot kick by just getting it past Jonny Walker's dive.
Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was credited with 12 saves to hold up his end of the result, but Walker will likely thank his posts. Crew rookie defender Chad Marshall hit the woodwork with a header in the first half, and in the second Edson Buddle had a low drive come off the base of the frame. Then in stoppage time Marshall saw another free header from a corner stopped, this time on the goal line by Metro midfielder Pablo Brenes.
Metro coach Bob Bradley made two changes to the team that lost a second consecutive 1-0 shutout, away to the Colorado Rapids the week before. Eddie Pope returned from a hamstring injury, replacing Kenny Arena, while Mike Magee came back from a knee sprain, coming in for Ricardo Clark in the midfield.
Here's Bradley's team (4-3-1-2): Jonny Walker - Tenywa Bonseu, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Pablo Brenes 20), Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee - John Wolyniec (Sergio Galvan Rey 80), Cornell Glen (Fabian Taylor 64).
"The thing that we feel is still that there are moments in the game where we have to have more of a killer instinct," Bradley said. "Seeing the chance to finish the game is something that's easy to speak about but obviously trying to get the habit on the field at the right time (is difficult)."
When Guevara was sent off in added time for a second yellow card for dissent within five minutes, it meant he will be lost to the MetroStars for two weeks. He'll miss the Wizards match while away on national team duty with Honduras, then serving the suspension the following weekend at home to New England.
"Amado is a competitive player. He's going to show his emotions on the field," Bradley said. "I think that the very best referees know how to handle situations so it never comes to endings like that. Amado has made a lot of progress this year. He has worked very hard to take more of a leadership role and handle the frustrations on the field better."
In addition, Vaca suffered a strain of the MCL in his right knee, which will put him out of action for the foreseeable future.
The MetroStars also clarified on Thursday the plans of Amado Guevara during the offseason. It had been announced that Guevara would return to Honduran side CD Motagua during the MLS offseason, but the MetroStars announced no deal has yet been reached to allow him to train with his former club, and that he still remains under contract with MLS.