On a cold night in Kansas, the Kansas City Wizards suffered through a scoreless draw against the Houston Dynamo that probably didn’t do much to warm up the fewer than 10,000 fans in attendance.
One point from two home games last week was enough to put a damper on the talk of the Wizards being this year’s surprise MLS team (Colorado has stolen that moniker for now), but the Wizards did show some improvements defensively and some promise that the quick start to the season wasn’t a mirage.
SBI correspondent Mike Cross endured the cold at CommunityAmerica Ballpark and filed his take on the action on Saturday. Here is his report:
A cold night, cold offense and a defense that is warming up
By MIKE CROSS
Your initial reaction to sitting through a 0-0 tie is usually, "did I just spend two hours of my life on this!?"
To be honest, I had the same reaction here. Except for the odd minute here and there, this game wasn’t the beautiful attacking football we’ve come to expect from the Wizards under Curt Onalfo.
Some of the reason for that clearly can be attributed to the good defensive effort of Houston.
Originally I was going to have to miss this game. I was going to be out of town attending my daughter’s high school girls rugby tournament in Des Moines. It was cancelled due to the threat of cold and snow giving you a clue that conditions in Kansas City, 180 miles to the south weren’t going to be a whole lot better and they weren’t.
Sitting through yet another frigid game at Community America Ballpark I’m almost looking forward to the Wizards seven weeks in the wilderness. At least by the time they get back we can hope some global warming has set in. Certainly what looked to be an attractive slate of early season games at home for Wizard’s fans has turned into something slightly less so by weather more suited to American football or EPL Boxing day fixtures.
The game never really featured a lot of purposeful possession by either side and very little, or should I say no, finishing quality. Houston used a hack fest strategy aided by Claudio Lopez’s propensity to be caught off sides to continually frustrate the Kansas City attack. Kansas City played well defensively despite some rookie errors in the back, errors covered nicely by Jimmy Conrad and Tyson Wahl .
The effort did a lot to restore the KC supporters faith in the back line. Wahl had his best game to date in my opinion and seems to be developing good communication with Conrad. If that partnership continues to develop it’ll go a long way towards allowing the Wizards to have a successful season.
We saw the first starts by both of Kansas City’s first round draft picks in this game, Chance Myers and Roger Espinoza. Both played well, Espinoza was all over the field and never seemed to tire. Myers played very well especially getting forward in attack. All that despite the fact that at times he looked like he’d rather be in sunny California than cold, windy and damp KC. Come to think of it I would have rather been somewhere warmer myself.
Back on the subject, what these two young players bring to the pitch is speed, a whole lot of speed. If they can develop consistency they can have an impact on this season and an even greater one in years to come.
Now the Wizards began their long banishment to the MLS wilderness. The team will not be back at Community America Ballpark until June 14th. Fortunately the fixtures start to spread out and the team will only play six games in seven weeks. This road trip will be the defining stretch of the season. If the Wizards don’t come home having garnered at least six points then achieving the playoffs let alone their goal of home field in the playoffs will be extremely difficult.