Wizards, United prepare for MLS Cup showdown

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004

 

  Miami Heat's Michael Doleac (51) and Rasual Butler (45) are unable to stop Washington Wizards' Antawn Jamison (4) from scoring in the second quarter Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004 in Miami. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Miami Heat's Michael Doleac (51) and Rasual Butler (45) are unable to stop Washington Wizards' Antawn Jamison (4) from scoring in the second quarter Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004 in Miami.

AP Photo/Alan Diaz

CARSON, Calif. The Kansas City Wizards and D.C. United plan to play the same scrappy style in the MLS championship game that they used to get that far.

''This team has been counted out,'' Kansas City midfielder Diego Gutierrez said Tuesday. ''But the team always had personality and character.

The Wizards overcame injuries, critics, and a tough playoff road to reach Sunday's MLS Cup.

Kansas City defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference final after knocking off defending champion San Jose. The Wizards advanced with a victory in the second game of the two-game, aggregate-goal series.

The Wizards are attempting to become the third MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup in one season.

''We had veterans and young players, and what we tried to do all year was to get points, get the home-field advantage, and to walk off with two trophies at the end of the year,'' Gutierrez said.

United advanced to the MLS Cup with a 4-3 win over New England that went to penalty kicks, and the victory wasn't secured until goalkeeper Nick Rimando stopped the Revolution's sixth kick.

D.C. players plan to deny the Wizards the second trophy they seek.

''I had faith in this team,'' said Freddy Adu, the 15-year-old phenom who had five goals and three assists as a United rookie. ''We've done so well. It's been fun to watch us grow as a team. Now one more game that we hope to win.''

To do so, they will have to slow down a strong attack led by Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud.

Wolff had 10 goals and seven assists, and Arnaud added nine goals and eight assists. Arnaud scored both goals in the clinching victory over Los Angeles.

''Both of them are very exciting-type players, very crisp, very sharp,'' United defender Ryan Nelsen said. ''It's going to be a lot of fun. We know we have to keep it very tough in the back.

''If we can keep it clean in the back, we have a very good chance of winning.''

Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian spearhead United's offense. Moreno has seven goals and 14 assists, and Eskandarian 10 goals and two assists.

D.C. coach Peter Nowak, a player on the losing side when Kansas City defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 in the 2000 MLS Cup, said his team will try to approach the game as business as usual.

''They (the Wizards) have very good experience, a couple of guys who won the championship,'' Nowak said. ''But we have to take care of ourselves first. We have to stick with our plan and find a way to win the Cup.''

Kansas City coach Bob Gansler said his team has undergone a bit of an evolution in the way it's played this year.

''It's the guys on the field who prevail,'' Gansler said. ''I don't think it has much to do with the guys biting their fingernails on the sidelines.''



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