The Wizards are back in the playoffs three years after finishing runner-up at MLS Cup; among the veterans of that solid team are defenders Jimmy Conrad
and Jose Buricaga
., midfielders Sasha Victorine
and Kerry Zavagnin
, and attackers Scott Sealy
and Davy Arnaud
. They needed a win on
the final day of the season to make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, and as the fifth-placed team in the Eastern Conference are matched against the Western Conference champion on the other side of
the bracket. First-year head coach Preki
has upgraded Chivas USA from good to borderline excellent by incorporating a more direct, yet skillful, style of play.
remarkable home record (10-1-4) and resilient defense (28 goals allowed, second-best in MLS) indicates sufficient quality to carry Chivas USA to the final. KANSAS CITY
(11-12-7) vs. CHIVAS USA (15-7-8)
8:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
Season series: Even (1-1). Goals: 4-4. GOOD.
Both teams have dangerous
attackers. Eddie Johnson
led the Wizards with 16 goals, yet Scott Sealy
scored seven, and Davy Arnaud
chalked up nine assists. Maykel
led Chivas USA with 12 goals in his first MLS season and Sacha Kljestan
finished second in the league with 13 assists.
The Chivas USA defense
benefited greatly from the trades that landed Shavar Thomas
and Jason Hernandez
. They have brought depth to supplement the talent and experience of
, the versatility of Lawson Vaughn
, and some amazing work by keeper Brad Guzan
(0.93 goals-allowed average, 13 shutouts). BAD.
Losing Ante Razov
(sprained knee) strips Chivas USA of more than just 11 goals. His lateral mobility and guile, not to mention potent left foot, served
as a perfect foil for Galindo's pell-mell dribbles and searing runs. Replacements John Cunliffe
and Laurent Merlin
are willing but limited.
Kansas City conceded 45 goals, the most among eight playoff teams. UNKNOWN.
Both Preki (Chivas USA) and Curt Onalfo
City) are rookie head coaches, so that's a push, but Preki has far more experience playing in big games and worked with his players for a year as an assistant before taking the top job.
Onalfo scouted CONCACAF foes for Bruce Arena
during their time with the national team, so he's no stranger to tactics and preparation. KEY MAN.
Keeper Kevin Hartman
must command the Wizards penalty area and can't get hung up in traffic. The absence of Razov means Kljestan needs to take the occasional shot as
well as look for the killer pass. BOTTOM LINE.
Kansas City can score on everybody but can't seem to stop anybody, and those teams rarely do well in two-game