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Match Day 4 - hosting the Wizards of Kansas City

Kansas City Wizards
Founded: 1995 as Kansas City Wiz
Home Stadium: CommunityAmerica Ballpark
Record Since 2000: 16-31-17
All Time Scorer in MLS: Preki (71)
All Time Cups/Shields: 1 MLS Cup, 1 US Open Cup, 1 Supporters’ Shield
2008 Record: 11-10-9, 42 pts, 4th in Eastern Conference
2008 Leading Scorer: Davy Arnaud (7)
2008 Keeper: Kevin Hartman (1.30 GAA, 10 Clean Sheets)
Key Player: Claudio Lopez, a former DP with a chip that only goals can knock off

Capsule: The Kansas City Wizards no longer have a Designated Player, but still retain Claudio Lopez as their star forward after they convinced him to sign for less money. This actually led the Wizards into bringing on Santiago Hirsig who was impressed with how the team and city supported Lopez. Kansas City was a balanced team not dominated on either end of the pitch that will be counting on Lopez and Hirsig to light the offense with 10-year MLS veteran Jimmy Conrad leading the defense. Hartman in goal will have to continue his history of stopping more shots than the league average in order for the Wizards to maintain or improve their playoff seeding.

Further Depth: Saturday we will find out what happens when a 3 of 9 faces 9 of 9 in front of nearly 30,000 fans. KC has only had one road trip so far, and like most MLS clubs they struggled. Seattle looks to use Sigi's Game to force the Wizards back onto their heals.

While the Wizards have a strong attack stacked with Lopez (34), Arnaud (28), Hirsig (31) and Wolff (32), how will these four who average 31+ years old do trying to track back on an entire team of younger players? Even old man Freddie is younger than most of the attacking set of for the Blue and White. This may be just a guess, but KC's best opportunity may be for direct play and counter ala TFC and the classic English game. How did that work for the Reds?

Weather Sat Night will be wet, cold and a little breezy. This could actually help the Rave Green in that Field Turf plays faster in the damp, though not in the soaked. For those of us in the stands, we again need to dress warm (glad we got scarfs?) and create that tense atmosphere that should help stifle communication for the KC club.

Here's a small note for those that read Ives Best XI each week. Seattle has at its worst had 3 on the starting team and 2 honorable mentions (this past game), while the previous two were 3+3. One of those players will wind up on the bench if both Fredy(die)s are healthy. I don't see any way that a player who hasn't put their name in the books isn't on the bench this week be it Jaqua, Zakuani, Evans or Le Toux. One of those won't be a starter, so Seattle again looks to disprove the old theory that expansion teams don't have depth. Seattle will also have Sanna Nyassi on the bench, as well as Wahl and Ianni.

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What are you looking for in the upcoming match? Who do you think winds up starting?