for this game

Wizards, Fire play to scoreless draw

Jul 28, 2008 - 3:20 AM By Marc Bowman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Ticker) -- The Kansas City Wizards and Chicago Fire played to a scoreless tie in front of a sellout crowd of 10,385 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Sunday night.

Neither squad is a stranger to 0-0 draws; the Wizards have played four thus far while Sunday's contest was the third in the last five for the Fire.

Chicago features the league's stingiest defense, having allowed just 14 goals in 17 games, while boasting the league's best goals-differential. Kansas City's 17 goals scored in as many games is the second fewest in the league, although it has found the back of the net seven times in the last five games.

"Our back five have been solid all year," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said. "They stay on the same page and fend off the chances before they become a problem."

Many of the 35 games between the two teams have been low-scoring affairs, most recently a 1-0 win by Kansas City at Chicago on April 20. The Fire own a 19-9-5 advantage over the Wizards all-time.

"We just didn't have that finishing touch," Kansas City coach Curt Onalfo said. "The league has enormous parity. It comes down to tiny plays. We created enough chances to score. I would have like to have scored and had those three points."

Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch, who leads the MLS in goals against average at 0.82, pitched his seventh shutout. Busch stopped eight shots, including a right-footed blast by Josh Wolff from the middle of the penalty area in the 34th minute, the best scoring chance of the game.

"I thought the boys in the back did a great job," Busch said. (Wilman) Conde did a fine job filling in on the right side. Bakary (Soumare), Gonzalo (Segares), those are the guys who do the dirty work. I just catch crosses and punch balls out."

Kevin Hartman also collected his seventh shutout, stopping five shots while lowering his GAA to 1.24. Hartman is the all-time MLS shutout leader with 74. With 85 and 75 saves, respectively, Busch and Hartman hold the top two spots in the MLS.

"Are we happy to get the shutout?" Hartman asked. "Well, sure. We're always happy with a shutout. But are we happy with just one point at home? No. We need to get a win in a game like this so we can get the confidence to move forward into the playoffs and, as a dream, to get a home game in the playoffs."

The Wizards (5-5-7) earned one point and moved into a fourth-place tie in the Eastern Division. Since dropping a 3-0 game to Columbus June 14 the Wizards are unbeaten in their last six games, forging two wins and four ties while picking up 10 points and three places in the standings.

"Over the last two months we haven't lost many games," Onalfo said. "This was a very good soccer match between two solid teams. We had a lot of success in the second half being patient with the ball. We took some risks but, unfortunately, we didn't come out on top."

The Fire (7-5-5) remained in third place, earning one point to give them 26 on the season. Chicago is unbeaten in its last five games, earning one win with four ties while allowing just three goals in that span.

"It's frustrating," Hamlett said of the lack of offense. "But at the same time we haven't lost. Being on the road and getting a point is certainly better than losing. We had some chances and I thought we came into the second half with more momentum and got better looks. We just couldn't quite get the touch. We felt that with our mentality and discipline we had a chance to win the game. At some point we know it's going to turn around."