The Kansas City Wizards have overcome a tough playoff road to reach Sunday's Major League Soccer Cup final against D.C. United in Carson, California.
Kansas City defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference final after knocking off defending champion San Jose. They are attempting to become the third MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup in one season.
D.C. United advanced to the MLS Cup with a four to three win over New England that went to penalty kicks. D.C.'s offense is led by veterans Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian. Moreno has seven goals and 14 assists, and Eskandarian 10 goals and two assists this season. But the team's rising star is 15-year-old phenom, Freddy Adu, who recorded five goals and three assists as a United rookie. Adu says he is really looking forward to the title match.
"I am very excited to be here, you know? Not a lot of people get a chance to do this and luckily for me I get a chance to do it in my first year," said Freddy Adu. "I have had great experiences so far and I think the team is ready and I am definitely ready to go out there and play, so hopefully we can come out with the win."
To do so, they will have to slow down a strong Kansas City attack led by Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud. Wolff had 10 goals and seven assists, and Arnaud added nine goals and eight assists.
D.C. United rookie coach Peter Nowak was the Most Valuable Player despite being on the losing side when Kansas City defeated the Chicago Fire one to nothing in the 2000 MLS Cup. He is making his first appearance in the title game as a coach. Nowak says he thinks the league's two best teams are meeting for the title, and he knows what Kansas City is capable of.
"They have a very experienced group of guys and a couple of them have won the championship already, which should give them the confidence," he said. "From our end, we have to take care of our business first and then see what we have to do. We have nothing to lose. We have our game plan and we will stick with it and we are going to find a way to win this game and raise the Cup."
Bob Gansler is behind the Kansas City bench and is coaching his second MLS Cup match. But he says the players will make the difference.
"Coaching is part of this, but for sure it is all about the players on the field," said Bob Gansler. "You know, they are going to put their imprint on the game and the ones who find the better form on the day, they are going to prevail. I do not think it has much to do with the guys biting their fingernails on the sidelines."
D.C. United is appearing in the MLS Cup for the fifth time since the championship's inception in 1996, while Kansas City is in the title game for the second time.