Wizards, Galaxy meet to determine first place and bragging rights in West.
(Friday, May 2, 2000) -- Major League Soccer's two remaining unbeaten teams battle it out tomorrow night for Western Division supremacy when the Kansas City Wizards visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
Kansas City (6-0-1) leads the West with 19 points, while Los Angeles (5-0-2) is close behind with 17 points. Although the Wizards are the surprise of the 2000 season, Kansas City has lost its last five matches at the Rose
Bowl. Despite the Wizards' struggles at the Rose Bowl, Kansas City and Los Angeles have featured many intense matches throughout the years.
"I'm not sure why they give us trouble," said Los Angeles defender Robin Fraser. "It must be something about the individual matchups that we have. They've always been a very tough team to play against and I'm not sure of the reason. It's going to be even more difficult now, based on the players they've brought in. The Wizards are solid offensively and defensively."
After going 8-24 in 1999 and compiling just 20 points, Kansas City could eclipse its final point total last year with a victory against Los Angeles. The Wizards lead MLS in goals per game (2.43) and goals against average (0.56). However, Los Angeles ranks second team defense (0.86 goals allowed per game) and third in goals scored e (2.14).
Kansas City is expected to be without the MLS April "Player of the Month," forward Miklos Molnar. "Danish Dynamite," who ranks second in scoring with 11 points on five goals and one assists, recently sprained his ankle training with the Denmark’s national team and is not expected to make the trip to Southern California.
"We are not a one-man show, we have other guys ready to pick up the slack," said Kansas City coach Bob Gansler. "I feel like we are blessed with Molnar, (Mo) Johnston, Alex (Bunburry), Chris Brown and Gary Glasgow. The first two have played so well, it has been hard to get time. If he (Molnar) is out, we will do what we did last weekend, start Bunbury with Glasgow and Brown coming off the bench."
Los Angeles leads the all-time series 9-7, and holds a 6-2 advantage at the Rose Bowl, including the five consecutive home wins. In fact, Los Angeles has won seven of the last eight games against the Wizards after losing six of the first eight meetings.
Kansas City's Preki, who is one goal away from being the first MLS player to reach the 50 goals and 50 assists, is the all-time leading scorer versus the Galaxy with 12 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 15 games, while L.A.’s Cobi Jones has scored 13 points (4 goals, 5 assists) lifetime against the Wizards. Saturday's contest at Los Angeles will be televised by Metro Sports in the Kansas City area.
Capsule previews of Saturday’s games with all times Eastern:
Dallas Burn at Tampa Bay Mutiny, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Season series: Dallas leads 1-0 (The Burn leads 1-0 in aggregate goals)
All-time regular-season series: Dallas leads 7-4 (The Burn holds a 16-12 advantage in aggregate goals.)
Leading scorers: Dallas - F Jason Kreis (3 goals, 4 assists, 10 points), F Ariel Graziani (5-0-10) Tampa Bay - Raul Diaz Arce, Steve Ralston, Manny Lagos are each tied with nine points.
Did you know? Dallas is 51-0 all-time when leading after the 75th minute.
Key players out: Dallas - D Jorge Rodriguez (World Cup qualifier), G Mark Dodd (hand surgery -injured reserve), D Eric Dade (back strain), M Sergi Daniv (rib fracture), D Mark Santel (quad strain); Tampa Bay - F Raul Diaz Arce (World Cup qualifier).
Key matchup: Dallas M Ted Eck vs. Tampa Bay M Carlos Valderrama - With the
Dallas defense shorthanded, Eck's ability to shut down Valderrama will help ensure more opportunities for lethal attackers Kreis and Graziani . . . When the Burn attack struggles, so has Jordan and the defensive corps . . . If Valderrama has his way, Ralston, Lagos and Mamadou Diallo will make the Burn pay.
Notes: The numbers favor Tampa Bay in this battle of the top two teams in the Central Division . . . The Mutiny has outscored its opponents 14-3 in four home games at Raymond James Stadium, while Dallas has gone 0-2 away from the Cotton Bowl this season, getting outscored 7-1 in the process . . . The Burn will get a reprieve from Raul Diaz Arce, who will miss his third MLS contest of the season to join El Salvador's national team for World Cup qualifying . . . Look for Tampa Bay coach Tim Hankinson to have Mamdou Diallo as the
Mutiny's lone forward . . . Dallas will travel with only two true defenders in Ricardo Iribarren and Brandon Pollard after injuries have sidelined Dade, Santel and defensive midfielder Daniv . . . Compounding that is the fact that Dave Dir's remaining healthy defender Rodriguez will join the Mutiny's Diaz Arce on El Salvador's national team . . . Further tilting the scales in the Mutiny's favor is the return of central defender Chad McCarty, who was solid in four games with the United States under-23s during Olympic qualifying . . . McCarty and company should have their hands full though, as Kreis and Graziani appear to be one of the most lethal one-two combinations in MLS so far this season.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Noel Kenny. Assistants - Nate Clement, Chip Reed
Chicago Fire at Miami Fusion, 7:30 p.m., Fox Chicago
Season series: Chicago leads 1-0 (The Fire holds a 1-0 advantage in aggregate goals.)
All-time regular-season series: Chicago leads 4-1 (The Fire leads 11-4 in aggregate goals.)
Leading scorers: Chicago - F Ante Razov (4-3-11); Miami - F Diego Serna (2-1-5).
Did you know? Los Angeles and Chicago are the only teams in MLS that have yet to suffer a loss at Lockhart Stadium (both are 2-0 there all-time)
Key players out: Chicago - F Hristo Stoitchkov (strained groin), M Chris Armas (hamstring strain); Miami - none.
Key matchup: M Henry Gutierrez vs. Chicago M Mike Sorber: Miami's struggling offense could receive a lift from Gutierrez if he's given too much space . . . With Chris Armas slowed by an injury, Sorber will again be called to step into the midfield in order to contain the dynamic Miami midfielder.
Notes: Miami returns home after a 1-1 draw with New England still looking to rekindle an offense that has scored only one goal since the team's 3-1 win over the MetroStars on March 25 . . . Playing its second game of the week, Chicago (10 points) sits behind both Dallas and Tampa Bay which have the Central Division lead w. . . Chicago took the first meeting of the season, claiming a 1-0 victory against Miami on April 15 when
Stoitchkov redirected an Ante Razov cross by Jeff Cassar in the 48th minute . . . Only the Fusion's second-ranked defense (.86 goals against per game) has been able to keep the team in contention through a near record-setting 457-minute scoring draught . . . Although Stoitchkov is doubtful, the Fire attack will get a boost by the return of Josh Wolff, who rejoins the team after helping lead the U.S. U-23 squad to an Olympic berth in Hershey, Pa. . . The Fire attack already seems to be clicking though, having lit up the Mutiny for four second-half goals in a 5-1 win last Friday, on the strength of two goals and an assist by Ante Razov . . . For his performance Razov was named "Player of the Week."
Scheduled officials: Referee - Kevin Stott. Assistants - Zekai Akbay, Greg Watson.
MetroStars at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m., Madison Square Garden.
Season series: Columbus leads 1-0 (Crew leads 1-0 in aggregate goals);.
All-time regular-season series: Columbus leads 10-7 (The Crew holds a 26-24 advantage in aggregate goals).
Leading scorers: MetroStars - F Alex Comas (3-2-8); Columbus: Dante Washington (6-1-13)
Did you know? Crew F Brian McBride has tallied two points in each of his last three appearances against the MetroStars.
Key players out: MetroStars - D Mark Semioli (calf strain - injured reserve); Columbus - M
Brian Maisonneuve (ankle surgery - injured reserve).
Key matchup: MetroStars M Tab Ramos vs. Columbus M John DeBrito: With another week of training and fitness under his belt, Ramos will be even closer to form after an impressive debut last Saturday . . . He'll find a stiff challenge in DeBrito (a former Metros teammate), whose excellent technique and ability to make the physical challenge could slow the Metro attack from its source.
Notes: Despite a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, the MetroStars travel to Columbus with more optimism and perhaps their most complete starting 11 of the season . . . A healthy Ramos and defender Thomas Dooley along with the return of forward Adolfo Valencia from a red-card suspension and defender Ramiro Corrales from the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, presents a vastly greater challenge for Columbus than the Metros team it faced three weeks ago . . . The Crew is searching for answers defensively after allowing 15 goals in its first seven games . . . The return of defenders Todd Yeagley and Mike Lapper should help provide more stability . . . Brian McBride has posed repeated problems for the MetroStars (six goals and four assists in 16 games), but Lothar Matthaeus and the Metros defense will also need to keep track of Crew striker Washington, MLS's leading scorer . . . Ramos' appearance in Metros colors was his first since July 10, 1999 . . . The Metros starting 11 could feature as many as five changes from the squad that faced Columbus three weeks ago . . . Dooley makes his first return to Columbus since the offseason trade for Mike Duhaney.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Paul Tamberino; Assistants - Craig Lowry, John Paul Spicer.
San Jose Earthquakes at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m., Fox New England.
Season series: First meeting.
All-time regular-season series: San Jose leads 6-5 (The Earthquakes have a 23-17 lead in aggregate goals.)
Leading scorers: San Jose - F Ronald Cerritos (4-1-9); New England - M Imad Baba (3g, 1a = 7pts)
Did you know? Cerritos has supplied 40 percent of the Quakes offense in 2000; however, he will miss the game to play with El Salvador's national team in World Cup qualifying.
Key players out: San Jose - Cerritos (World Cup qualifier), M Wade Barrett (athletic hernia); New England - D Rusty Pierce (concussion\laceration), D Brian Dunseth (concussion).
Key matchup: San Jose M Khodadad Azizi vs. New England M Leonel Alvarez - After sitting out a three-game suspension, a motivated Azizi could cause problems for Alvarez with his quickness . . . New England's steady Colombian will need a big game with the Revs defense potentially missing two starters in Dunseth and Pierce.
Notes: San Jose travels to New England as the healthier of the two teams, while the Revs may end up scrambling to plug holes if defenders Dunseth and Pierce are unable to play. Both sustained concussions
after they collided late in the Revs 1-1 draw with Miami last weekend . . . Pierce took the worst of the encounter, also suffering a cut on his forehead that required 10 stitches . . . Although they lose Cerritos again to El
Salvador's World Cup qualifying efforts, the Earthquakes will look to Iranian Azizi to jump start the offense after serving his suspension for an altercation that occurred in a loss to Kansas City April 15 . . . San Jose will play four of its next five games on the road, where the team has gone without a goal for 290 minutes . . . Abdul Thompsen
Conteh has been active for the Quakes though, who have drawn three penalty kicks already this season, after only earning one last season . . . New England definitely seems to have the advantage in the midfield, where veterans John Harkes and Leonel Alvarez have played every minute for coach Fernando Clavijo thus far this season . . . New England has played to overtime in each of its last three matches, on the way to earning a league high four draws this season (tied with Miami).
Scheduled officials: Referee - Rich Grady. Assistants - Glenn Prechac, John Konstantinidis.
D.C. United at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m., Home Team Sports.
Season series: First meeting.
All-time regular-season series: United leads 7-3 (D.C. holds a 25-16 edge in aggregate goals).
Leading scorers: United: F Jaime Moreno (4-0-8); Colorado - Jorge
Dely Valdes (3-0-6)
Did you know? The only United forward to score a goal this season is Moreno.
Key players out: United - D Eddie Pope (knee surgery), D Clint Peay (knee surgery), F A.J. Wood strained groin); Colorado - M Ross Paule (knee strain - injured reserve), M Anders Limpar (hamstring strain - injured reserve), D Lance Key (groin strain).
Key matchup: United D Carlos Llamosa vs. Colorado F Jorge Dely Valdes - Llamosa usually holds down the center of the United backline, and if Dely Valdes gets room to run United's decorated defensive corps could be holding on for dear life . . . With the explosive Junior Agogo and Henry Zambrano waiting in the wings, United will need to be wary of all the Rapids' options.
Notes: After a difficult midweek match against Chicago, Colorado returns home to Mile High Stadium to face a United team fresh off a Wednesday loss with arch-rival Columbus . . . With one game to get clicking, Colorado might find United to be a completely different team than what others have faced so far this season. Bolstered by the return of U.S. Olympians Chris Albright and Ben Olsen, D.C. may be packing a bigger
offensive punch than in previous weeks . . . United has looked susceptible in back though, a worrisome problem with the Colorado duo of Dely Valdes and Agogo lurking . . . The Rapids' undermanned midfield will need a
stellar performance to stop the now healthy Marco Etcheverry, who has tallied three goals in United's last three matches, including two off set pieces . . . Colorado midfielder Joey DiGiamarino's status looms as a big question mark, with Colorado already missing midfield standouts Ross Paule and Anders Limpar . . . With Albright, Olsen and defender Eric Denton away for Olympic qualifying, United went 0-2-1, with each contest requiring overtime after 90 minutes had decided nothing.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Ted Covaciu. Assistants - Roger Sill, Rudy Bettmann.
Kansas City Wizards at Los Angeles Galaxy, 10:30 p.m., MetroSports.
Season series: First meeting.
All-time regular-season series: Los Angeles leads 9-7 (The Galaxy holds a 25-17 lead in aggregate goals)
Leading scorers: Kansas City - F Miklos Molnar (5-1-11); Los Angeles - M Cobi Jones (4-2-10)
Did you know? Kansas City has trailed for only seven minutes during the 2000 season.
Key players out: Kansas City - F Miklos Molnar most likeley will not travel with the team because of an ankle strain ; Los Angeles - none reported.
Key matchup: Kansas City M Preki vs. Los Angeles M Danny Pena - Many wrote Preki off following the Wizard's dismal 8-24 campaign last year, but with and improved defense behind him, the crafty left-footer has pumped in two goals and added four assists this season in the wide-open K.C. attack . . . Pena's ability to slow the Wizards dynamic attack down will be a key to unleashing the potent Galaxy combination of Jones, Clint Mathis and Mauricio Cienfuegos.
Notes: The highly anticipated matchup gives the undefeated Wizards an opportunity to gain respect from their critics, who argue that Kansas City's record is slightly inflated from having played four matches at home against weaker teams . . . Few doubt the quality of the Galaxy, a perennial MLS contender since 1996 . . . Statistically, Kansas City posts the league's top ranked offense (17 goals), and defense (four goals allowed ) . . . A balanced Kansas City attack blitzed Colorado 5-0 last weekend using goals from five different players . . . Nine of K.C.'s regular starters have tallied a point in 2000, with the only exceptions being defenders Nick
Garcia and Brandon Prideaux . . . The Wizards have also used a touch of magic in back as well, allowing only one goal through the month of April, and four all season . . . After his return from the U.S. national team's match in Moscow last week, the Galaxy will see a fresher Cobi Jones, who was unable to break through against the Metros last weekend . . . L.A. remains solid with the consistent play of goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and the explosive
offensive skills of Mathis, who has asserted himself for three goals this season . . . Penetrating the Galaxy defense won't be easy for the Wizards, as the league's second ranked defense (.86 goals against per game, to .57 for the Wizards) awaits in the form of 1999 MLS "Defender of the Year" Robin Fraser, and
Hartman, last season's league "Goalkeeper of the Year" . . . L.A. has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two squads, after losing six of the first eight . . . Attractive soccer will likely dominate the evening, as
Kansas City and L.A. rank 12th and 11th respectively in fouls committed, and fourth and first, respectively, in total shots.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Tae Young Kim (South Korea). Assistants - Tom Bobadilla, Jorge Reyes.