Kansas City Wizards (8-7-5, 29 pts) vs Chicago Fire (6-8-5, 23 pts)
Wednesday, August 22 – Kansas City, Missouri
Arrowhead Stadium – 7 p.m. CT
English TV: Metro Sports (TWC 30) Español TV: Around Town (TWC 5)
Radio: ESPN Radio 97.3, La Gran D 1430 AM
Broadcast Details: Metro Sports Local Fiber Loop
(August 21, 2007) – The Kansas City Wizards are back in action Wednesday for their second match in four days as they host the resurgent Chicago Fire at 7 p.m. CT at Arrowhead Stadium. The game, televised live in English (Metro Sports - TWC 30) and Spanish (Around Town Channel - TWC 5), will feature flamboyant Mexican international Cuauhtemoc Blanco and former English Premier League star Paulo Wanchope. Kansas City will look to revive its attack after back-to-back shutouts at the hands of Matt Reis and the first-place New England Revolution.
The Wizards currently sit 4th in the highly competitive Eastern Conference and 7th place overall in the playoff picture, two-thirds through the season, by both points and points per game played. To make the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs, a team must finish either 1st or 2nd in its conference or have one of the next-four highest point totals. Kansas City currently sits five points clear of 9th-place Colorado. The Wizards haven’t made the playoffs since reaching the MLS Cup finals in 2004 when they suffered a 3-2 loss to rival D.C. United.
Chicago enters the match on a three-game MLS unbeaten streak since Blanco’s arrival. Over that stretch, the Fire have defeated Toronto 3-0 and Real Salt Lake 2-0, with a 0-0 tie against Columbus sandwiched in between. Blanco scored in his Fire debut, a 1-1 tie in an international friendly against Scottish power Celtic FC. Blanco then scored the Fire’s first goal Saturday against Real on a brilliantly struck shot from distance before assisting on Wanchope’s second-half strike.
The Wizards are in the midst of a five-game in 13-day stretch that will be vital to the teams ultimate inclusion in the playoffs. Should the Wizards take substantial points during the next two weeks, they will be positioned well to make the playoffs an possibly qualify for the 2008 SuperLiga, a club competition between eight of the best clubs from the United States and Mexico. The top four teams in Major League Soccer, selected by total points at the end of the season regardless of conference, will compete next year against the top four teams from the Mexican first division with a $1 million prize on the line.
For the rest of the season, there will be interesting positional battles shaping up throughout the Wizards midfield and forward positions as forward Scott Sealy returns to health and newly signed Argentinean midfielder/forward Eloy Colombano adjusts to life in MLS. Colombano proved dangerous during his first 45 minutes in the league after coming on at the half in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to New England. He will keep the pressure upon the rest of the Wizards midfielders and forwards to earn their inclusion in the first 11 each week.
With his next appearance, Wizards captain and All-Star defender Jimmy Conrad will reach the 200-appearance plateau. Conrad is in his 9th MLS season and has become a standout in the latter part of his career, appearing on the MLS All-Star squad in each of the last four seasons (2004-2007) and being named to the MLS Best XI team for three straight years (2004-2006). Conrad has also become a mainstay on the United States National team after outstanding play in the 2006 World Cup.