April 24, 2007 Kansas City Wizards vs Toronto FC pregame report (from MLSnet.com)

04/24/2007 12:41PM
Road trip wraps with visit to Kansas City
MLSnet.com Staff

7:30 p.m. CT (MetroSports; The Score)
April 25, 2007 (WEEK 4) / MLS Game #19

The Kansas City Wizards and Toronto FC play the front end of their home-and-home series this week, as the Wizards open the home portion of their 2007 schedule after starting with a pair of games on the road, coming away with a victory and a defeat. On Saturday, when the teams play the return match in Toronto, it will the grand opening of BMO Field in TFC's first-ever home game; they come into the third game in club history looking for their first win - and first goal.

REFEREE: Andrew Chapin. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Brad Clem
MLS Career: 15 games; FC/gm: 28.9; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 4; pens: 1
Games involving Wizards: P4 W4 L0 T0; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 5.3; R: 1; pens: 1
Games involving Toronto FC: first game

INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: DF Matt Groenwald (blood clots), MF Ryan McMahen (torn ACL); MF A.J. Godbolt (groin strain); PROBABLE: FW Scott Sealy (ankle sprain) ... TORONTO FC - OUT: MF Ronnie O'Brien (knee), PROBABLE: FW Alecko Eskandarian (abdomen), DF Chris Pozniak (hamstring), MF Maurice Edu (groin)


ALL-TIME: first meeting
This is the first-ever meeting between the clubs, the first of three meetings this season, and the first of two in a home-and-home series over the next four days. The teams will inaugurate BMO Field in Toronto in the expansion's club home debut on Saturday afternoon. Their final meeting this season will be July 1 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Coaches record: Curt Onalfo vs. TOR: first game ... Mo Johnston v KC: P1 W0 L0 D1

The Kansas City Wizards make their 2007 home debut after splitting their two road contests to open the season, coming off a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Wizards are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with three points, along with the Columbus Crew, both teams four points behind the New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire.

The Fire came into the game undefeated, getting a goal to tie a 10-man Colorado Rapids the week before, while the Wizards were also unbeaten, a 4-2 win at D.C. United their only league match on the year.
The Fire struck first in the 36th minute as Chad Barrett scored his second goal in as many weeks. Chris Armas dribbled forward from midfield, found Chris Rolfe, who slipped Barrett in behind the Kansas City with a quick pass, and the third-year striker slotted home past Kevin Hartman.
The teams then traded penalty kicks over the final 20 minutes. The Fire doubled their lead in the 73rd minute when Ivan Guerrero was hauled down after a strong run into the right side of the area. Rolfe converted from the spot for his first goal of 2007.
Then in the final minute, Diego Gutierrez hooked down Carlos Marinelli in the area. The recent Argentinean -- who was making his MLS league debut after coming on as a halftime substitute -- sent Chicago 'keeper Matt Pickens the other way in converting his own penalty, the first goal allowed by the Fire at home on the season.
Wizards head coach Curt Onalfd made two changes from the team that defeated D.C. United in the season opener. Nick Garcia returned from suspension and came back into central defense in place of Aaron Hohlbein, while Yura Movsisyan made his first start of the year, coming in for Scott Sealy, who was hampered by an ankle sprain.
Here's Onalfo's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Jack Jewsbury (Ryan Pore 79), Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Davy Arnaud, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Michael Harrington - Yura Movsisyan (Carlos Marinelli 46), Eddie Johnson. Substitutes Not Used: Aaron Hohlbein, Will John, Eric Kronberg, Kurt Morsink, Ryan Raybould
"We had an opportunity early in the second half after starting very well to score and we didn't. When you're on the road you must put those chances away," Onalfo said. "We just fell short today. We decided to take some risks [with substitutions] in the second half and it didn't pay off this time. That's how it works sometimes."

After seeing Eddie Johnson cause the D.C. United defense fits with his pace, especially getting behind their back three, Fire boss Dave Sarachan put in a new scheme for the Wizards, going with a back four and giving Dasan Robinson his first minutes of 2007 in an attempt to counteract Johnson's pace with some pace of his own.
"Credit to Chicago, they had a very good game plan. They did a good job neutralizing the speed we have on our team. Their spacing throughout the game was very, very good," Onalfo said.
After scoring a goal and having a part in the three others against United (registering two assists), Johnson was held without a shot on goal by the Fire. "Every game's different," Onalfo said. "And today was an instance where there wasn't a lot of space for Eddie to attack behind them. They dropped off and played low pressure. When that happens, different people need to start making the game."
Carlos Marinelli made his MLS league debut, coming on at halftime, and capped it by winning a penalty kick in the 90th minute then converting from the spot himself. Marinelli had made his Wizards debut at midweek, coming on in the 61st minute of the U.S. Open Cup loss to Real Salt Lake.
"He came on and definitely provided a spark for us. The more times he gets on the field, the more comfortable we get with his style of play and what he's going to provide when he comes on," Jack Jewsbury said. "He's a great addition to this team. Technically he's very, very good and should help us throughout the season."
After opening their season with a bye week, the Wizards have been very busy. By Saturday's game at Toronto, they will have played five games over a 15-day span, ending with the home-and-home series with TFC over four days.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy," Onalfo said to the Kansas City Star. "It's just going to be a matter of taking it one game at a time and utilizing our entire roster. It's better to have this stretch when it's early. We have a good game plan going in. Not everybody is 100 percent, but in this business, you have to be prepared."
Added Sasha Victorine: "(Last year's busy schedule) led to a lot of injuries. There was a lot of wear and tear that made it very tough. But the benefit of doing it this early is our legs are fresher. We'd rather not do it at all. But that's the way the schedule is."

Toronto FC return to action after a weekend off still looking for a first win - and first goal - in club history. In their last match, April 14 at New England, TFC fell 4-0 to the Revolution, and have now conceded six goals without reply on the season. TFC are tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference along with D.C. United, the only two teams in MLS not yet to have taken a point this season.

In the season opener on Route 1, the Revolution were looking for a first victory on the 2007 season, while Toronto FC were looking for their first victory ever. Taylor Twellman gave the Revolution a dream start, scoring twice within the opening 18 minutes. First, in the 12th minute, Khano Smith flighted a ball from the right flank that took a deflection and landed at the feet of Adam Cristman. He laid the ball off to Twellman just at the top of the area, and he lashed a low shot home for New England's first goal on the campaign.
Six minutes later Twellman had doubled his season total and the Revolution lead. Steve Ralston hooked in a high cross from the right and Twellman leaped up to send a looping header back over TFC 'keeper Greg Sutton (18).
The Revolution made it 3-0 on the hour. Cristman was hauled down by defender Andrew Boyens in the area, and Shalrie Joseph -- in his first appearance on the season -- sent Sutton the wrong way in converting from the spot.
New England finished off the rout 12 minutes later. A throw-in found Ralston ranging free behind the defense on the right, and after turning the corner he laid the ball back to the spot for Andy Dorman, who gleefully thumped the ball home for his first goal on the year -- and the 500th league goal in Revolution club history.
Toronto FC head coach Mo Johnston made no changes to the starting lineup that lost 2-0 to Chivas USA the weekend before in the club's first-ever game.
Here's Johnston's team (3-1-4-2): Greg Sutton - Andrew Boyens, Marco Reda, Jim Brennan - Carl Robinson - Miguel Canizalez (Conor Casey 57), Richard Mulrooney, Paulo Nagamura, Andy Welsh - Alecko Eskandarian, Edson Buddle (Abbe Ibrahim 87). Substitutes Not Used: Rich Asante, Adam Braz, Tomer Chencinski, David Guzman, Tyler Hemming
"We can compete. Tonight, I wouldn't say it was about competing, it was about that we were just outplayed on numerous occasions," Johnston said. "... We never gave our goalkeeper a chance. We got four goals scored against us. The last two were mistakes schoolboys would not have made."

After having considerable optimism coming out of preseason, TFC has opened the season without a win or a goal - although they did have their share of chances in the opener against Chivas USA.
"We've lost the last two games, and we've not scored. We have guys on this team that can score. We're just not gelled properly at the moment," Johnston said. "(Against New England there) was no positives. Tonight's a night you go back and look at the game tape and point out all the mistakes you've made."
Heading into the first part of the home-and-home with Kansas City, TFC is hoping to get a good result that will launch them into a four-game home run, beginning with Saturday's opening of BMO Field against the Wizards.
"Obviously, [we want] as many points as we can get out of it. I think that we just have to ... we're worried about ourselves right now. I think that's our biggest goal: to become more of a cohesive unit defensively and offensively," said goalkeeper Greg Sutton. "(We had) a week-and-a-half off to prepare for Kansas City and hopefully we can get a good result on the road and then come home to an exciting crowd. But it's a long season. We just have to make sure that we're doing the right things to get back."
But after the loss to New England, the changes started coming. First, the club confirmed the acquisition of striker Daniele Dichio from Preston North End of England's Coca-Cola Championship (second tier).
Then last Thursday, in a pair of deals, Toronto FC bolstered their back line. They obtained fullback Marvell Wynne - the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 SuperDraft - from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for a partial allocation and a second-round draft pick in 2008. TFC also got defender Kevin Goldthwaite and first-round pick in next year's draft from Houston Dynamo in exchange for midfielder Richard Mulrooney.
The following day, TFC sent striker Conor Casey to the Colorado Rapids for a third-round pick in the 2008 draft and the rights to Canadian player Riley O'Neill. TFC also placed goalkeeper Tomer Chercinski and midfielder A.J. Gray on waivers.
Johnston said with the new additions - and with the return of some players from injury - the side he is able to put out this week should more closely resemble his first-choice team. Maurice Edu, the No. 1 overall pick in the SuperDraft, should make his MLS debut on Wednesday after missing TFC's first two games with a groin injury. Defender Chris Pozniak will also be available after recovering from a hamstring strain, and Johnston said midfielder Ronnie O'Brien will be able to make at least a substitute appearance on Saturday.
"It's just a matter of getting certain guys on the field," Johnston said. "Last week and these last couple of days we've had good practices. It's vital we keep these guys together on the field in a set formation and get them comfortable."

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