20090522 Chivas USA versus Kansas City preview
In an eight-minute span last week, Chivas USA saw both its shutout streak and its winning streak disappear.
The top team in MLS will try to bounce back from that disappointment in a place it's never earned a point with Saturday's trip to face the Kansas City Wizards.
Last week against visiting D.C. United, Chivas (7-1-2) had a two-goal lead, and was closing in on its fourth consecutive shutout win. The shutout streak ended on a United goal with 13 minutes left, and D.C. scored again with five minutes remaining for a 2-all draw.
"Both goals we gave up were outside the box. They really came from nothing," Chivas defender Carey Talley said. "Those things happen... If we're a little bit sharper, we close that game out a long time ago."
Despite the late collapse, Chivas maintained its eight-point lead over Seattle atop the Western Conference. It also remained MLS' top defensive team (five goals allowed), but will face one of the league's top strikers Saturday in Kansas City's Josh Wolff.
With six goals, Wolff is tied for the league lead with Chicago's Brian McBride. He's scored four times in the last three games, including both goals in last week's 2-0 Wizards victory at Real Salt Lake.
"He's hot at the moment. We understand that," Chivas coach Preki Radosavljevic said. "The thing is it's not just Wolff. They have quite a few guys that can hurt you in different moment. We have to focus on the whole team, not just one player."
Radosavljevic's squad has failed in every previous trip to Kansas City with five losses in five all-time league meetings, including a 3-2 defeat Aug. 9. During the Chivas coach's first season of 2007, the Wizards took a 1-0 win over Chivas at their former venue, Arrowhead Stadium, on their way to winning the Western Conference semifinals.
Chivas midfielder Sasha Victorine scored the opening goal for Kansas City last Aug. 9, and had the game-winning score for his current team in a 2-1 home victory over the Wizards on Sept. 27 -- nearly two weeks after he was acquired in a deadline-day trade.
By snapping a three-game winless streak last week, Kansas City (4-4-2) moved within a point of Chicago and D.C. United for first place in the East.
"We had a lot to prove because we've struggled in the prior two games," Wizards coach Curt Onalfo said. "We felt like we were better than the performances that showed in the last couple of games."
After giving up three goals in a loss at Columbus, Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman rebounded by making a season-high seven saves for his fourth shutout of the season and 81st of his career, extending his league record.
Chivas netminder Zach Thornton, third on that list with 64 shutouts, has a league-leading six this season and a 0.50 goals-against average -- second to Seattle goalie Kasey Keller's 0.40.