Nick Garcia

Wizards invite Thunder to Missouri

Park University, Parkville, Mo.; 7:00 p.m. CT

The Kansas City Wizards face another Cinderella story as they try to become the first club since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms to repeat as Open Cup winners (1982-83). In the fourth round, the Wizards knocked off the PDL Des Moines Menace, the last amateur side left standing; they now take on a Minnesota Thunder team Wednesday that has knocked off MLS clubs in back-to-back ties in the final season for coaching legend Buzz Lagos.

2005 OPEN CUP: The holders of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup began defense of their trophy in fine fashion, striking 12 on the Cinderella of this year's competition with a 6-1 victory against the Des Moines Menace of the PDL (fourth tier) at Park University just outside of Kansas City. ... Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff each scored goals on either side of halftime as the Wizards saw an early goal answered by the amateur side before their pedigree took over and they rolled to victory. Arnaud finished off a neat pass from Wolff off a set piece after just nine minutes, but the Menace pulled level three minutes later as Matt Wieland headed home a corner. But just three minutes later, Wolff was tripped up in the area and converted his own penalty, then Sasha Victorine knocked home a Wolff pass to double the Wizards lead (31). After the break, Wolff was again hauled down in the box and converted his own spot kick (65), before Scott Sealy and Arnaud took turns playing provider for each other, the rookie finishing off a cool one-two on 65 minutes, Arnaud racing away with a Sealy pass before an emphatic finish 10 minutes later for the final scoreline. ... Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): William Hesmer; Khari Stephenson, Shavar Thomas (Dustin Branan 67), Jimmy Conrad (Nick Garcia 46), Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein (Preki 73), Kerry Zavagnin, Jack Jewsbury (Scott Sealy 46), Sasha Victorine; Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud

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.

2005 U.S. OPEN CUP: In the fourth round, the Thunder continued their giant-killing ways in the U.S. Open Cup, dumping the Colorado Rapids out of the competition with a 4-1 victory at James E. Griffin Stadium in St. Paul, Minn. ... Melvin Tarley scored all four goals for the Thunder, giving him six goals against MLS clubs in the competition. Tarley gave the Thunder the lead in the 38th minute when he beat Joe Cannon from the top of the penalty area, then doubled the lead two minutes after the break when he knocked him his own rebound of a saved shot. Alain Nkong halved the Minnesota lead when buried a shot off a pass from Eric Denton in the 69th minute, but Tarley capped off his spectacular night with two goals in five minutes in quick response to the Colorado goal (72, 76). Here's Buzz Lagos's team: Joe Warren; Nathan Knox, Mike Wilson, Chad Dombrowski; Freddy Juarez, Godfrey Tenoff (Tighe Dombrowski 71), Jay Alberts, Kiki Lara (Kevin Friedland 63), Matt Schmidt; Johnny Menyongar (Jeffrey Matteo 76), Melvin Tarley (Aaron Paye 81) ... The Thunder played the giant-killing role for the second year running, knocking off Real Salt Lake in extra time in a wild third-round match. Real took a 3-2 lead early in the second half and led 4-3 with 20 minutes left, but Aaron Paye hit for the equalizer two minutes from full time, then Matt Schmidt and Paye scored in extra time (Tarley 15, 66; Menyongar 17, Paye 88, 108; Schmidt 98 - Kreis 9 pen, 50, 70; Watson 38). ... The Thunder entered the competition in the second round, and defeated the PDL Chicago Fire Premier 2-1 on June 29 in St. Paul, an own goal in the 89th minute sealing the victory (Johnny Menyongar 62; own goal 89 - Brandon Moss 90). ... By virtue of their 2004 record, the Thunder entered the competition at the second round along with three other teams; the other four eligible USL First Division sides enter the Open Cup at the third round.

IN THE U.S. OPEN CUP: This is the sixth time in Thunder club history - and fourth year running - they've reached the competition proper in the Open Cup. Last year was by far their best performance, knocking off the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in the fourth round before losing on penalty kicks to the San Jose Earthquakes after a 2-2 draw in the quarterfinals. They've played MLS teams five times in Open Cup competition, winning two, first losing to the Dallas Burn in 2000 in the third round, and also losing to the Galaxy in 2002 in the fourth round. The Thunder and K.C. Wizards have never met in the U.S. Open Cup.

FORM GUIDE: The Thunder are in 10th place in the 12-team USL First Division with 25 points from 24 matches, trailing the first-place Montréal Impact by 21 points. They come into the Open Cup match winless in their last five league matches, a 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday following four consecutive draws. ... Johnny Menyongar leads the Thunder with eight goals in 23 games, while Melvin Tarley is second on the club with seven. ... Long-time coach Buzz Lagos has announced his retirement after the completion of the season.

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