(July 20, 2007) - The Kansas City Wizards (7-5-4) will look to build upon their two-game unbeaten streak Sunday against a Colorado Rapids (4-8-5) squad that hasn't won an MLS game since May 26. They have, however, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Rapids won't be the only players coming to Kansas City from Colorado, as Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, defender Jimmy Conrad and forward Eddie Johnson all played in the 2-0 win in the 2007 Sierra Mist All-Star Game against Scottish Power Celtic FC Thursday. Conrad and Johnson started the match, with Hartman entering for starter Matt Reis at halftime. Johnson and Conrad played solidly throughout their time on the pitch. Hartman made one save after halftime to maintain the shutout.
Kansas City boasts what is essentially its entire starting lineup as both Conrad and Johnson have returned from National Team duty in the last two games. Attacking midfielder Carlos Marinelli and left back Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. are also returning from injuries and are near fully fit for the first time in weeks.
Johnson returned after missing six games to CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America competition last Saturday and scored the game's only goal for his 10th tally of the season (6th game-winner). He will augment a lineup that has produced the most goals in MLS this season (27) despite playing without MLS goal leader Johnson for over a month. Johnson now has goals in three straight matches and either a goal or an assist in four straight. Johnson began his goal/assist streak by assisting on midfielder Davy Arnaud's game-tying goal against the Rapids on May 19. The Wizards tied the Rapids 1-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the team's first-ever trip to the Rapids' new stadium.
Colorado, who has scored only three goals during its 8-game winless steak, made a trade earlier in the week to improve its offensive options. The Rapids sent holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman to Rocky Mountain Cup Rivals Real Salt Lake for attacking midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy. Ballouchy, a native of Morocco, wore number 10 for RSL and will hope to add creativity and flair to the recently dormant Rapids attack.
Wizards goalkeeper and All-Star Kevin Hartman will look to limit the Colorado offense as opponents have in recent weeks. Hartman, MLS' all-time leader in wins (123), shutouts (66) and games played in goal (259), earned his fourth shutout of 2007 against Real Salt Lake last Saturday. Hartman is among the league leaders with 53 saves so far this year.
Kansas City will attempt to get back to .500 against the Western Conference this season. So far, the Wizards have gone 1-2-2 against the West (1-2-0 at home).