OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Tuesday, August 24, 2004) - The Kansas City Wizards advanced to the U.S. Open Cup Final after shutting out the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Tuesday night. The game's lone goal came by virtue of an Igor Simutenkov penalty just before the end of the first half and it was the Wizards defense that took over from there. The Wizards backline unit completely shut down the potent Earthquakes attack limiting the visitors to just six total shots, including none by forward Landon Donovan.
The Wizards victory sends them to their first U.S. Open Cup Final and just the second overall championship match (2000 MLS Cup) in franchise history. Kansas City will await the outcome the other Semifinal match between the Chicago Fire and the Charleston Battery (A-League) that will be played on Wednesday, Aug. 25 to determine their opponent and the site of the Open Cup Final.
Should the Fire win tomorrow, the Wizards would host the final at Arrowhead Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT. If the Batter upset the Fire, then the Wizards would travel to Charleston to face the Battery at Blackbaud Stadium on the same date. Fans can follow tomorrow's semifinal match live via audio webcast by logging on to www.mlsnet.com or www.charlestonbattery.com . The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Tuesday's match began with a rapid pace for both sides, as the ball swiftly ran from end to end propelled by purposeful passes out of the back and clever midfield interplay that fed the energetic frontlines. In the fourth minute however, San Jose's strike force was stripped of MLS scoring leader, Brian Ching, as a collision with Jimmy Conrad knocked the Quakes' forward out of the match with a left ankle sprain. Arturo Alvarez was inserted in right midfield for San Jose three minutes later.
The injury did little to slow either club as the fast-paced action continued. Wizards' left winger Alex Zotinca was the recipient of a number of driven crosses in the first 11 minutes of play, but was unable to beat goalkeeper Jon Conway. Zotinca had three separate opportunities in front of the goal after having his way down the left flank, but all three times he was denied by Conway.
It seemed that a skillfully played first half would end without a goal for either side as the clock ticked down. But in the 43rd minute Kansas City was rewarded for their attacking play as Igor Simutenkov fed a nice ball in between traffic to Josh Wolff who wound through the congested box and was taken down by Ryan Cochrane as he tried to latch onto the pass. Referee Kevin Terry pointed to the penalty spot and gave the Wizards an opportunity to carry a surge of momentum into the locker
room. Simutenkov stepped up to take the kick and drilled a low bullet down the center of the goal, catching Conway leaning far to his right unable to reach back for the ball before it rippled in the back netting.
Wizards' midfielder Preki made his second appearance of the season coming on for Simutenkov at the break and repeatedly threatened with his patented cut back move creating chances for Wolff and himself early in the second stanza. The most dangerous chance occurred in the 73rd minute as Preki cut near midfield and played Wolff in alone with Conway. Wolff beat Conway deep in the right corner of the box, but his cross was cleared off the line by Jeff Agoos for a corner.
San Jose was never out of the match as they pushed forward mainly through DeRosario as Donovan dropped to midfield in place of the substituted Ekelund. But it was he Wizards defense that took over and turned away the Earthquakes desperate attacks, one after the other. With a little clock management in the dying minutes, the Wizards were able to preserve the 1-0 win and clinch their first ever trip to the U.S. Open Cup Final.
- U.S. Open Cup Match Report -
2004 U.S. Open Cup - Semifinal
Kansas City Wizards (MLS) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Tuesday, August 24, 2004, 7:30 p.m. (CT)
Blue Valley District Activities Complex, Overland Park, Kan.
Weather - Sunny, humid, 85
Attendance - 2162
1 2 F
Kansas City Wizards 1 0 1
San Jose Earthquakes 0 0 0
KC- Igor Simutenkov (Penalty Kick) 45th minute
Kansas City Wizards Lineup (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi-GK; Taylor Graham, Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Igor Simutenkov (Preki-46', Justin Detter- 80'), Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Alex Zotinca; Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff (Jack Jewsbury-74')
San Jose Earthquakes Lineup (4-4-2): Jon Conway-GK; Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane (Eddie Robinson-76'), Todd Dunivant; Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Tighe Dombrowski-56'), Richard Mulrooney, Dwyane DeRosario; Landon Donovan, Brian Ching (Arturo Alvarez-7', Chris Brown-71')
Shots 14 6
Shots on Goal 5 2
Saves 2 4
Fouls 13 12
Corner Kicks 2 6
Offside 5 2
KC- Jimmy Conrad (Professional Foul) 62
SJ- Brian Mullan (Reckless Foul) 85'
Referee- Kevin Terry
Assistant Referees- Craig Lowry, Jose Andrade
Fourth Official- Terry Vaughn
Post Game Quotes:
Kansas City Wizards Head Coach Bob Gansler
On the game
"It was well deserved. We had many chances in the first half with sharp passes especially between Josh (Wolff) and Davy (Arnaud) and Diego (Gutierrez). It was the combination plays that got us the opportunities. That was just one of them. I thought we attacked the center of their defense rather well. The second half we had opportunities, but the last ten minutes it is going to be a scrum. By and large we gave a good account of ourselves and were the better side."
On Bo Oshoniyi earning the shutout
"Bo is always ready and has been since he came to this place five years and just as in New England (last Saturday) with no notice. He stepped in and did
a good job again tonight. As I have said before, he is not the 11th best goalkeeper in this league, he is better then that, but with Meola in front of him he is not going to get many opportunities. We are not surprised, that's the Bo we know.
On having a preference to face Chicago or Charleston in the Open Cup Final
"Our preference is just to play and we already accommodated ourselves. Whether we play Chicago or whether we play Charleston, it doesn't matter. A home game is always nice, but either way we are already happy."
Kansas City Wizards Defender Jimmy Conrad
On the game and beating his former team for the first time
"It was going to happen at some point. Tonight was a game that really mattered and I'm glad we won. I thought they played well and it was a good game. They have had the better of us a couple times, so they can let me have one."
On the team shutting down Landon Donovan
"We learned a couple weeks ago (against San Jose August 14th) that if you give him too much time, he will run at you and that is when he is the most dangerous. Nick (Garcia) and I made a concerted effort to be right up behind him every time he touched the ball. Make him earn his touches, don't let him turn and make it as difficult as possible for him, make it a long night. I think the results speak for itself."
Kansas City Wizards Goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi
On the game and shutting down Landon Donovan
"Defensively we were solid tonight and they made my job a lot easier. Donovan has caused us problems in the past and our defense was able to hold him in check. I don't think he had many chances tonight and I give all the credit to Jimmy, Nicky, Taylor and Jose, they worked really hard tonight and we got the result and we are on to the final."