Wizards vs Rapids Preview

By: By NICOLINO DI BENEDETTO, STATS Writer
By: By NICOLINO DI BENEDETTO, STATS Writer

The punchless Colorado Rapids are hoping to avoid matching a franchise record nine-game winless streak Sunday when they visit the Kansas City Wizards, a team they have not beaten on the road in nearly five years.

Colorado (4-8-5), which is five points back of a potential playoff spot, has not gone nine consecutive games without a win since May 16-June 30, 2001, the last season the club failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The Rapids will try to avoid matching that dubious mark while halting a six-game winless streak (0-5-1) against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. Colorado managed a 1-1 tie with the Wizards at home on May 19, but have not won at K.C. since a 2-1 victory on Sept. 14, 2002.

The Rapids' current overall winless skid reached eight games (0-6-2) with a 1-0 loss to New York on July 8 as they were shut out for the third time in a row. Colorado, which is 0-4-1 on the road during the stretch, has not won since beating Los Angeles 1-0 on May 26 and has been outscored 12-3 since.

The Rapids have not managed a goal since Jacob Peterson scored in the 19th minute of a 4-1 win at D.C. on June 28. That scoring drought spans 341 minutes to rank as the third-longest in team history behind the record 499 consecutive scoreless minutes to end the 1999 season and the 396 from May 3-31, 2003.

Colorado has only netted 14 goals this season, better than only Real Salt Lake (12) and Chicago (13).

"Goals come in bundles or they don't," Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo said. "Right now they don't. You can see frustration in the players. What else can we do? We'll keep working in training, absolutely, but there is nothing else. Just keep our heads up and keep working."

Clavijo hopes Mehdi Ballouchy can help provide some offense after the Rapids acquired the midfield playmaker from Salt Lake on Monday for defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman. Ballouchy has only two goals and two assists in 46 career games since being drafted second overall out of Santa Clara in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. The Morocco native is expected to start Sunday behind forwards Conor Casey and Peterson, who have combined for one goal this season.

Kansas City (7-5-4) is looking to take advantage of the reeling Rapids and continue its success against them at home in the final season meeting.

The Wizards have been superb with forward Eddie Johnson in the lineup, going 7-2-1 as he has tied for the league lead with 10 goals.

That trend continued on July 14, as Johnson returned from the United States national team and scored in a 1-0 win over Salt Lake.

"I want to score 20 goals this season," Johnson said. "When you set your goals as high as I do and you only make it halfway you are still very successful. Every day I try and think about how I can take this team to the MLS Cup, and I try and challenge myself every weekend."

Johnson is two goals shy of his career-best of 12 goals, set in 2004 with Dallas. His strong season has helped the Wizards to second in the East and within one point of first-place New England, which plays Houston on Sunday.


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