CHIVAS USA vs. KANSAS CITY
Western Conference semifinal, second leg
(Wizards lead, 1-0)
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, HDNet, Direct Kick
Razov hasn't recovered from a twisted knee and Galindo, bothered for the past month by an abdominal strain, is questionable. Coach Preki does have youngsters Laurent Merlin and John Cunliffe as backups, but both were ineffective in the first leg and so he needs his midfielders, and perhaps a defender or two, to step up.
Wide men Francisco Mendoza and Sacha Kljestan combined for 17 assists but just six goals during the regular season, and central partners Jesse Marsch and Paulo Nagamura netted two goals apiece.
Kljestan's tendency to drift inside often unbalances defenses but he'll need someone making runs in the box to latch onto his passes. He'll also need to get in a few shots. This is the game to launch Jonathan Bornstein into the attack at every opportunity.
When the teams played at HDC Sept. 22, Razov scored both goals, including a wonderful 22-yard bender for the winner, in a 2-1 win. Eddie Johnson lashed a shot off the crossbar that Eloy Colombano, an early sub for the injured Ryan Pore, tapped into the net for an equalizer.
Kansas City can assure advancement by shutting out Chivas USA, but the Wizards surrendered 45 goals in the regular season.
They do have an excellent shot-stopper in Kevin Hartman, one of the league's best defenders in Jimmy Conrad, smart, experienced midfielders in Sasha Victorine and Kerry Zavagnin, as well as breakaway goalscoring threats in Johnson and Scott Sealy.
Can they play the cat-and-mouse game of absorbing pressure and striking on the break against a weakened foe that has only been beaten at home once all season?