London Free Press: City, Wizards Prepare for War

City, Wizards prepare for 'war'

By KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter

 Amid warnings to tone down the war of words, the two GMs whose teams are meeting tonight in the Canada Cup wild-card were choosing their phrases a bit more carefully yesterday, but not much.
London City and the Ottawa Wizards will play a wild-card game as part of this weekend's Canada Cup -- the Canadian Professional Soccer League's cup championship.
"They are not as good as they think they are," shot City manager Harry Gauss.
"The best team in the league for the last two seasons is a hell of a draw," said Ottawa GM Jim Lianos, who added he believes Gauss is "just trying to sell tickets" by stirring up controversy.
The conflict started at a league meeting last week when Ottawa complained about scheduling. The team doesn't feel it should have to play in the wild-card game.
Ottawa was chosen because it only had to play one round of two games in the cup draw as opposed to the two rounds the other teams played. That was compensation for its travelling expenses.
City is in the tournament because it is the host team.
"I did think about (not coming)," Lianos said yesterday. "It was not relayed to me (prior to the season) that I'd have to play a wild-card game. I would have said, 'No thank you, I'll play my four games.'
"For London to be eliminated and then go back into it, to me is a joke."
Gauss is "anticipating a war" in the 8:30 p.m. game.
"Any time you make a stand like that, you figure something's got to happen," he said.
The Wizards also are upset because after the league executive decided Hamilton couldn't hold the Canada Cup, it was awarded to Ottawa. That decision was overturned by the team owners, who shifted the event to London.
Lianos said he has no gripes with London, only the league "on the way they decided the cup matchups" and pulling it from Ottawa. "That's the problem with soccer in Canada -- politics."
Ottawa and London met once in the regular season, with the Wizards winning 3-0. All of their goals came in the last 15 minutes and City was competitive before that point.
Lianos said the difference was his team's great conditioning as London played well. "They hit the crossbar. It could have changed the game."
The manager said his team never goes into a game overconfident, yet they are not fearful of anyone either.
"You can't have a 14-1-1 team be fearful of a team that's won two (games), but you have to be careful. On any given day there can be a mistake."
Gauss said his team can beat anybody in the league, despite its 2-9-7 record. "If we come to play, there's nobody in the league that's going to beat us. But that's the problem with our team, we're up and down. It's that given day thing."
Gauss said he's told his players nobody expects them to win so "get in and grab it."
Canadian Professional Soccer League cup championship
All games at Cove Road field
Today: Ottawa Wizards vs. London City, 8:30 p.m.
Tomorrow: Vaughan Sun Devils vs. Toronto Croatia, 5:45 p.m.; Brampton Hitmen vs. winner Ottawa-London, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday: Championship game, 3:15 p.m.
Tickets: Weekend pass $15; Today and tomorrow, $10 each day; Sunday, $15

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