April 24, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Kansas City Wizards pregame (from MLSnet.com)

Reds, Wizards lock horns once again
Eastern foes meet again in rematch from First Kick weekend
04/24/2009 07:34 PM
MLSnet.com Staff

TORONTO FC vs KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
April 26, 2009 (WEEK 6) / MLS Game #45
5 p.m. ET (GolTV Can.; MetroSports)

Toronto FC and the Kansas City Wizards meet for the second time this season as the clubs come off bracing 1-0 victories at midweek. Toronto FC knocked off the league's final undefeated side Wednesday, Chivas USA, for their first win since a 3-2 First Kick victory against the Wizards in Kansas City. The Wizards extended their unbeaten streak to four matches the following day after an early goal and red card led to a home win against the New York Red Bulls.

REFEREE: Paul Ward. SAR (bench): Thomas Supple; JAR (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Silviu Petrescu
MLS Career: 7 games; FC/gm: 23.0; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 0; pens: 1

INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC - OUT: FW O'Brian White (knee); MF Dwayne De Rosario (hamstring) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: FW Adam Cristman (fifth metatarsal fracture); GK Eric Kronberg (shoulder surgery); DF Chance Myers (fifth metatarsal fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF Jack Jewsbury (concussion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 6 goals ... Wizards 3 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 2
AT TORONTO: (3 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 2 goals ... Wizards 1 win, 1 goal ... Ties 1

After a victory in the first meeting this season on First Kick 2009, Toronto FC have won two of the last four meetings between the clubs, with the Wizards winning one and one draw.

After winning in their first two meetings ever, the Wizards have won just one of the five since, with a pair of draws.

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

Coaches record: John Carver vs. KC: P4 W2 L1 D1 ... Curt Onalfo v KC: P7 W3 L2 D2

LAST MEETING (MLS):
3/21: KC 2, TOR 3 (Arnaud 56, 76 - Brennan 33; Guevara 53, 62)

Toronto FC claimed a 3-2 victory when the teams met on March 21 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in First Kick 2009. The visitors were up by two goals early in the second half, Jim Brennan capping off a quick counter by lashing home an angled shot inside the near post (33), then Amado Guevara taking a pass at the top of the area, spinning around and hooking a perfectly placed shot inside the right post in the 53rd minute.

Wizards midfielder Davy Arnaud pulled the home side back just three minutes with a stunning blast from outside the area that rattled off the inside of the goal and thundered back onto the field.

But TFC were back ahead by two in the 62nd minute, Guevara coming in to sweep home his second goal on a rebound of a saved shot from Dwayne De Rosario.

Arnaud hit for his second goal of the game in the 76th minute -- another stunning blast from outside the area (this time with his right foot). De Rosario had a chance to put the game away in the 80th minute, but sent a penalty kick over the goal, yet the Reds held out for their first win ever to open the season and just their fifth ever away from BMO Field.

Here's Onalfo's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Jonathan Leathers, Jimmy Conrad, Aaron Hohlbein (Roger Espinoza 46+), Michael Harrington - Graham Zusi (Santiago Hirsig 62), Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Claudio Lopez - Herculez Gomez, Josh Wolff

Here's Carver's team (4-1-3-2): Stefan Frei - Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harmse, Adrian Serioux, Jim Brennan - Carl Robinson - Sam Cronin, Amado Guevara, Rohan Ricketts - Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 89), Dwayne De Rosario

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC put a four-game winless streak to an end and won for the first time since First Kick 2009, handing Chivas USA their first loss of the season, 2-0 on Wednesday night at BMO Field. TFC moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with New England with eight points from six matches, now one point behind leaders Chicago Fire.

LAST MATCH
Chivas USA were playing in the Eastern time zone for the first time on the season, with four wins and a draw on the season, while Toronto FC were looking for their first victory since a First Kick win at Kansas City.

The game's lone goal came in the 36th minute. Danny Dichio's header outside the area found Amado Guevara, and the Honduran international raced into the area, dribbled through a couple of defenders and kept possession before lashing home a close-range shot past Zach Thornton.

TFC rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei was called upon to make just a single save in recording his first clean sheet as a professional, that coming on a long-range freekick from Sacha Kljestan in the first half.

Toronto FC head coach John Carver made three changes to the team that lost 3-2 to FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon. Dwayne De Rosario was injured and Fuad Ibrahim went to the substitutes' bench and midfielder Sam Cronin and forward Pablo Vitti came back into the team in an adventurous three-man attack. Marco Velez also came in for Kevin Harmse in central defense.

Here's Carver's team (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei - Marvell Wynne, Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan - Sam Cronin, Carl Robinson - Amado Guevara (Rohan Ricketts 91+) - Pablo Vitti (Fuad Ibrahim 80), Danny Dichio, Chad Barrett. Substitutes Not Used: Nana Attakora-Gyan, Emmanuel Gomez, Kevin Harmse, Johann Smith, Greg Sutton

TEAM NEWS
For Frei, it was his fifth start in six games on the season and his third in a row. The best Chivas chance of the night missed the goal, an Eduardo Lillingston from a tight angle put into the side netting.

"It was the perfect day for me," Frei said. "I think I had just the one save to make, that was it. The guys did a terrific job throughout the 90 minutes, which was is what we wanted. Congrats to the guys, they made the job easy for me. ... We closed them down right away and defended as a team from the strikers all the way to the back."

It was the first clean sheet of the season for Toronto FC, which came into the game having allowed nine goals on the season, tied for second-most in the league, one fewer than FC Dallas.

"We've had a couple of games now where we've had partial games where we've played 45 minutes or 83 minutes. We needed to show a 90-minute good game like we did today," Frei said. "We came out strong and going into the half with the lead we knew we needed to come out of the locker room with that same power and effort."

TFC came out of the match knowing that, by the time kickoff rolls around on Sunday, they could be playing for a chance to move into first place in the Eastern Conference. Chicago and New England both face tricky road tests on Saturday evening.

"The most important thing is that we're in second place now," Guevara said. "And [after] Sunday's game, we have a chance to be in first place in this conference. I'm happy since it was the first win at home and we got what we wanted."

After making substitute appearances in each of the first five matches, with TFC's fixture overload ahead, Danny Dichio was given the start and played the full 90 minutes up top. Also playing 80 minutes in his first start in three matches was Vitti.

"They are both great players," Barrett said to The Globe and Mail. "I mentioned pregame we would need one of them - turns out we needed both of them and they did a tremendous job."

Said TFC assistant coach Chris Cummins, who sat on the bench while John Carver watched the match from the press box: "We said to Danny, 'Give us what you got.' We thought he might get 60 out of him, 75 at a push. But you look at him now, and I'm sure he could probably go another 90 tomorrow."

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards extended their unbeaten streak to four games, seeing the New York Red Bulls get a red card and a penalty in the first three minutes of the game then holding on for a 1-0 victory Thursday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The Wizards moved into first place in the Eastern Conference ahead of the weekend with 10 points from six matches, now a point ahead of the Chicago Fire.

LAST MATCH
The Wizards had come back for a late draw in Chicago after winning their first two games on the season the week before, while the Red Bulls had finally won their first game of 2009, defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at home.

The game turned upside down just two minutes in. Sent through into the area by Claudio Lopez, Herculez Gomez was tripped by Red Bulls fullback Carlos Johnson after the Wizards winger won the ball and looked to be in alone on goal. Referee Michael Kennedy immediately showed a red card, the second time in two games in MLS Johnson has been sent off.

The ejection was the fastest in MLS history. Aidan Heaney of the New England Revolution held the previous record at three minutes in for his red card against the Colorado Rapids on May 25, 1996.

Lopez stepped up and calmly dispatched the resulting penalty kick, rolling it inside the left post while sending New York goalkeeper Jon Conway the other way.

Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made two saves in recording his third shutout in the last four games, including a game-saving stop on Juan Pablo Angel in stoppage time.

For the fourth consecutive match, Curt Onalfo made no changes to the first XI he ran out, maintaining the same group he first installed for the win against San Jose on April 5.

Here's Onalfo's team (4-1-3-2): Kevin Hartman - Lance Watson, Jimmy Conrad, Aaron Hohlbein, Matt Besler (Roger Espinoza 67) - Jack Jewsbury (Michael Harrington 32) - Santiago Hirsig, Davy Arnaud, Herculez Gomez (Michael Kraus 77) - Josh Wolff, Claudio Lopez. Substitutes Not Used: Rauwshan McKenzie, Kurt Morsink, Boris Pardo, Abe Thompson

"We wanted to have a good start, and we certainly had a great start. Drawing the PK and then getting the goal right away was great," Onalfo said. "Credit to New York, I thought they did an excellent job once they went a player down to make it really hard on us. It was one of those games where if we would have just got that second goal then maybe we could put the game away, but we weren't able to do that."

TEAM NEWS
While Onalfo kept his first XI the same, he did make some tactical shifts. After scoring two goals in a late-game move from a wide midfield role to striker, Josh Wolff was put there from the start against New York. Davy Arnaud returned to his central midfield role where he spent the last portion of 2009, and Santiago Hirsig went to a wide midfield role, interchanging with Herculez Gomez.

Onalfo indicated there could be changes ahead for Toronto FC, with his team facing a third game in eight days (though TFC is playing their third in seven).

"We may have to play some other players depending on where we are with fatigue. There are some fresh bodies on our bench that may see more time," said Onalfo. "Roger Espinoza came in tonight and had a real impact on the game, and that's good to see. Michael Harrington again came in and did a good job. Our reserve players have done well."

As well, there is a concern for Jack Jewsbury, who was forced from the field after a clash of heads in the first half. He was taken to an area hospital for tests after suffering a concussion, and released shortly thereafter.

The Wizards have played with an extended man-advantage now in two of their last three games, totaling 149 minutes. Herculez Gomez was involved in both, his shot at goal handled outside the area by Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller in the 29th minute on April 11.

"After Sunday, we don't have another game for 10 days, so we can push it a little bit knowing that we have a couple of days off afterwards," said Jimmy Conrad. "We do have a deep bench, but I think we'll continue to have a similar lineup knowing that we'll have time to rest the next week."

The Wizards have recorded shutouts in three of their last four games, and have now gone 18 league games without being shutout themselves. "We're confident, but we're aware that we need to get better. We're not playing our best soccer right now, but we're getting results, and that's a good thing. We still have a lot of room for improvement," said Conrad.

That Onalfo was even able to guide his team from the bench was remarkable. "For me, this has been an unbelievable day," Onalfo said. "We had a nasty car accident on the way here with my family. Everybody's healthy. We got our three points, and as far as I'm concerned, three points, baby. Ten points and first place. We'll figure out the things we need to do better in order to get ourselves ready for a tough game on Sunday."

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