March 19, 2009 Kansas City vs Toronto FC pregame stats and quotes (from MLSnet.com)

Conference rivals meet in First Kick 2009
Toronto FC visit Kansas City on Saturday night
03/19/2009 04:30 PM
MLSnet.com Staff Opening win a breakthrough for TFC Reds top KC for first opener win Reds eager to get 2009 underway Reds arrive in Kansas City

More Headlines >KANSAS CITY WIZARDS vs TORONTO FC
COMMUNITYAMERICA BALLPARK, Kansas City, Kan.
March 21, 2009 (WEEK 1) / MLS Game #4
7:30 p.m. CT (MetroSports/TWC-5; GolTV Can.)

A pair of teams looking to make some noise in the Eastern Conference meet in First Kick 2009 when the Kansas City Wizards play host to Toronto FC. The Wizards were one of the hottest teams down the stretch last season, and narrowly fell short on eliminating the eventual champion Columbus Crew in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Toronto FC was much improved in its second season in MLS, and has a place in the postseason firmly in its sights to kick off the year.

REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Chris Penso MLS Career: 26 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 6; pens: 9

INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: FW Adam Cristman (fifth metatarsal fracture); GK Eric Kronberg (shoulder surgery); DF Chance Myers (fifth metatarsal fracture) ... TORONTO FC - OUT: FW O'Brian White (knee); DF Nana Attakora-Gyan (hip flexor); PROBABLE: DF Adrian Serioux (hip flexor)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Wizards 3 wins, 7 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 3 goals ... Ties 2
AT KANSAS CITY: (3 meetings): Wizards 2 wins, 6 goals ... Toronto FC 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 1
RETURN MATCH: 4/26: Kansas City Wizards at Toronto FC

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/26: TOR 2, KC 0 (Guevara 56, 77)
6/21: TOR 0, KC 0
9/20: KC 2, TOR 0 (Jewsbury 63; Souter 79)

Toronto FC won for the first time in four tries against the Wizards in their first meeting last season.

After winning in their first two meetings ever, the Wizards went three games vs. TFC without claiming a victory, until the 2-0 victory at home in last season's final meeting.

There have been shutouts in five of the six meetings all-time, including the scoreless draw last June 21 at BMO Field.

Coaches record: Curt Onalfo v KC: P6 W3 L1 D2 ... John Carver vs. KC: P3 W1 L1 D1

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS

Some late-season moves gave the Kansas City Wizards the spark they needed to move into the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs, and they nearly claimed an opening round upset of the Columbus Crew. From that foundation, third-year coach Curt Onalfo believes the pieces are in place for the club to make a deep run into the postseason, aiming for a third-ever trip to the MLS Cup Final.

The Wizards rounded out their preseason schedule with a 4-0 victory against the USL First Division Minnesota Thunder on March 14 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Claudio Lopez gave the Wizards a fourth-minute lead, then Jack Jewsbury (50), Lopez (67 pen) and Roger Espinoza (79) hit for goals in the second half. Here's Curt Onalfo's team: Kevin Hartman; Jonathan Leathers, Jimmy Conrad (Matt Besler 66), Aaron Hohlbein, Michael Harrington; Graham Zusi, Jack Jewsbury (Kurt Morsink 81), Davy Arnaud (Kevin Souter 46), Claudio Lopez (Roger Espinoza 71); Josh Wolff (Michael Kraus 71), Herculez Gomez (Abe Thompson 62)

Offseason acquisition Adam Cristman, expected to contend for a starting striker spot, will be lost to the team for up to three months after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture of his fifth metatarsal in his foot.

Another injury question, Herculez Gomez, started against Minnesota and played just more than an hour. He will be available for selection for the season opener.

The club continues to await the arrival of midfielder Santiago Hirsig into the U.S., after the completion of his visa paperwork. Hirsig was with the club on their week-long trip to Mexico.

"We have a certain way we want to play, regardless of who is on the field," Onalfo said. "So, certainly, we've been thinking about Toronto for some time now."

Perhaps the only starting spot still truly up for grabs could be at center back, where third-year man Aaron Hohlbein is being pressed by rookie Matt Besler, a first-round SuperDraft selection out of Notre Dame.

Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman is on the verge of another MLS goalkeeping milestone. With seven more saves, he will surpass Tony Meola for the all-time MLS lead. Hartman already owns the league record in shutouts (77), appearances as a goalkeeper (303), goalkeeper wins (138).

"I think we're all excited to get the regular season started and start playing games that matter in the standings. We're looking forward to playing a team, Toronto FC, that we think highly of," Hartman said. "Some of the additions they have made such as Dwayne De Rosario are great additions to their team. We have to be aware of their speed and their class and try to neutralize their attack.

TORONTO FC

From Year One to Year Two, Toronto FC made a 10-point improvement. The Reds are hoping that a number of high-profile additions will at least match that increase in 2009, moving the team into the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. John Carver is in his second year in charge of the club, taking over before the start of last season.

Toronto FC completed their preseason schedule at the week-long Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. After victories against D.C. United and the host Charleston Battery, TFC fell 2-1 to Real Salt Lake in the championship decider on March 14.

Yura Movsisyan and Clint Mathis put RSL ahead by two goals just 20 minutes into the game, but Dwayne De Rosario equalized for the Reds on 38 minutes. TFC were a man down at the time, Kevin Harmse having been sent off for a second bookable offense in the 22nd minute.

Here's John Carver's team: Stefan Frei; Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harmse, Adrian Serioux (Marco Velez 26), Jim Brennan; Rohan Ricketts (Sam Cronin 54), Carl Robinson, Amado Guevara, Dwayne De Rosario (Amadou Sanyang 89); Pablo Vitti (Danny Dichio 71), Chad Barrett (Fuad Ibrahim 82)

While Carver was disappointed with the loss, he said there could be a positive side to it. "Everybody was getting a bit carried away, players and fans, because we were going to win everything in sight," Carver said. "But it brought everybody back down to earth a little bit ... it takes away that complacency. It isn't a bad thing. It may have happened just at the right time."

Serioux was forced off with an injury midway through the first half of the RSL match, and Carver said it could keep him out of the season opener. Carver and TFC also got a look at what Serioux can bring, after he was sent off in the CCC-opening 2-1 win against Charleston.

"[Serioux] was injured when he came to us, he had that hernia operation .. .so he was behind the rest of the group," Carver said. "He's been working very hard since he's come through the door but you have to be careful. You don't want to overcook him. I've got to make the decision whether he's going to be right to play on Saturday. ... If he's fit, he'll play, it's as simple as that. If he's not, I won't take a risk with him."

Young defender Nana Attakora-Gyan is also expected to be unavailable for the opener. "With hip flexors you're talking three, four, five weeks," Carver said. "It just depends on the severity of it."

Carver said - unlike his first season in charge - he has a very good idea of his first XI. "I have played around with things in preseason and again this morning, but now I know what my team is going to be," he said. "This time last year I didn't have a clue who would be starting, so it shows how much progress we have made."

TFC's offseason maneuvering also has the team thinking positively about the upcoming campaign, which all began with the trade for Dwayne De Rosario from the Houston Dynamo.

"You add Dwayne, who was a big important piece in moving forward. When we got him, then other things started to fall," said TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston. "We bring in Pablo Vitti, then we get Adrian [Serioux], that's three big signings for us. On top of that the three [first-round] draft picks and then we added the pair of Gambians [Emmanuel Gomez and Amadou Sanyang]."

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