Surging D.C. United hope their depth can help vault them into first place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night as they look to continue their road success against the slumping Kansas City Wizards.
D.C. (6-4-2) has won its last two games at Arrowhead Stadium to extend its unbeaten streak there to four contests (2-0-2) since a 1-0 loss July 10, 2004.
Another victory at Kansas City (6-4-3) would propel United from fourth place to first in the East. They're two points back of idle leader New England and one behind the Wizards and New York.
D.C. tightened the East race with a 4-1 victory over Colorado on Thursday, as playmaker Christian Gomez and reserve Nicholas Adderly each had a goal and an assist. The one-sided win came without three key players, as midfielder Ben Olsen and defender Bobby Boswell are with the U.S. national team in Venezuela for the 2007 Copa America, while forward Jaime Moreno is representing Bolivia at the South American championship.
"You always expect that injuries are going to happen, as well as call-ups," United coach Tom Soehn said after the victory over the Rapids. "We work hard to make sure that we have a staff that works well with everybody and when their chance comes, they are ready to go in.
"It was the reserves today that really energized us, with Adderly. We have a deep team and as we give those guys more experience, they are going to get counted on to come in and do things they did."
Adderly, who replaced Guy-Roland Kpene in the 12th minute Thursday after the forward suffered a hamstring injury, could find himself starting up top with Luciano Emilio against Kansas City. He could join a lineup that's likely to include Clyde Simms for Boswell again and Justin Moose in for Olsen.
Those moves were effective against Colorado and helped United improve to 6-1-2 after starting the season with three losses, including a 4-2 home defeat to the Wizards on April 14, a game in which Kansas City's Eddie Johnson had a goal and two assists.
Johnson, though, is also with the U.S. team, leaving the Wizards without the league's top scorer at nine goals in nine games. Minus its top forward, Kansas City is winless in its last four (0-2-2) and has scored only three goals in the last three games.
"Most teams go through a hard stretch, and I think we are going through one right now," Wizards coach Curt Onalfo said. "I don't think you can fault our performance in those games."
Rookie Michael Harrington picked up some of the scoring slack Sunday, netting his third goal of the season as the Wizards took a season-high 25 shots in a 1-1 draw with Toronto.
"I think it is just about being sharp in front of the goal," Onalfo said. "It just didn't go our way in front of the net. At least we were creating chances. I would be worried if we weren't getting any."
Harrington was effective in the Wizards' season-opening victory over D.C., scoring a goal in the third minute and making runs up the left side of the midfield to put pressure on the United defense.