Preview: Chivas USA at Kansas City Wizards
Kansas City lead alltime series with 4 wins, 3 losses, and 3 draws.
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What's at Stake?
Postseason dreams. The season is not halfway through and yet both these clubs are entering a stage in which many more missed opportunities could mean looking ahead to 2011 prematurely. That said, there is still plenty of time to turn it around. Still, neither side can afford too many more loses before the conference leaders truly pull away.
Kansas City have just one win in their last 11 league games. Over that span, they have been shut out seven times. If they are to pull themselves out of their slump, they will need to get some scoring from somewhere. The best candidate is Kei Kamara, whose 6 goals leads the side. But Josh Wolff, who led the team last season with 11 goals, is stuck on one right now, and captain Davy Arnaud has only one as well.
Chivas USA, meanwhile, have addressed their own scoring troubles by signing Venezuelan striker Giancarlo Maldonado. He won't be available until next week, so he can't help end the Goats' seven-match league winless streak yet. However, Chivas do arrive in the Midwest with some momentum following a strong 3-1 win over Houston in the US Open Cup in midweek. Two goals came from young striker Justin Braun, who leads the team with four goals and three assists on the season.
Chivas USA won the last meeting in October by a score of 2-0 on the back of goals by Braun and Sacha Kljestan. More interesting was the game in May, which ended 1-1 but resulted in red cards to Wolff and Santiago Hirsig. Tensions could be high again this time around with plenty to fight over.
Heroes & Villains
KC midfield vs. Chivas midfield. Kansas City couldn’t control the middle of the field against FC Dallas and ended up pinned in their own half for the first 45. That can’t—and shouldn’t—happen again this week with Arnaud back from suspension and holding midfielder Stephane Auvray rounding back into shape. That won’t stop the Goats' Blair Gavin and Michael Lahoud from trying to disrupt the Wizards again. The pair’s recent form suggests they could be successful against manager Peter Vermes’ team.
Justin Braun vs. Kei Kamara. Vermes described Braun as a hardworking, skillful player who pops up in the right spots while Kamara (six goals) is a little more dynamic at this point in his career. But the point is that both teams rely on their big, physical center forwards to receive and hold the ball and then put it away when service comes into the box. Whichever has the more influential game will likely be an indication of who wins the midfield battle as discussed above.
Stat that makes you go “Hm...”
The Wizards have scored only 11 goals, tying them with D.C. United for last in MLS. Chivas USA, on the other hand, are tied with United and New England for the most losses in the league with nine.
He Said It
“They are a little bit of the same situation that we are. I don’t think that their record tells the story about them.” — KC coach Peter Vermes on both teams' struggles this season