When a slumping D.C. United faced a streaking Kansas City Wizards last weekend, it seemed inevitable that the Wizards would keep D.C.’s mini-slide going. D.C. United had other plans.
Instead of looking like the flat side that tumbled out of SuperLiga, D.C. looked more like the team that crushed competition in June. D.C. United coach Tom Soehn had been promising changes and his team certainly changed its effectiveness in attack as well as in defense, where the club posted its first shutout of the season.
The Wizards’ offensive struggles continued as another shutout leaves KC’s attack looking inadequate, even with the addition of Josh Wolff (who missed the D.C. match with an injury). You can’t help but wonder if the Wizards will ever generate enough offense to make a serious push in the playoff race.
SBI correspondents Joel Sanderson and Thad Bell took in the action last weekend and share their takes on the match with us:
Defense holds up as D.C. gets back on track
By JOEL SANDERSON
A clean sheet for Zach Wells. The defense went an entire game without allowing a goal. Next thing you know John Harkes is going to name Steve Sampson his child’s godfather.
One might think that a 2-0 win would be cause for celebration of both offense and defense. One would be wrong. Allowing no goals was a statistical probability, not a representation of phenomenal play. The Wizards were getting their shots off and out hustling the defense.
On simple plays like the ball in the center being played out the wings, too often DCU was left chasing the wing down to get in front. True, the defense was young. Considering the ages of McTavish, Burch, and Carroll, the defense didn’t play too poorly, but injuries happen. That was not a championship winning defense.
Let’s not forget about Wells. But for a defense that did a good job of getting back on his brilliant…karate slap effort…there the Wizards would have scored. And while I appreciate that he wants to demonstrate that he can dunk on eight-foot hoop, he did that last week. Why try again?
On the other hand, the championship offense was on the field for DCU. It wasn’t the best showing, more counterattacking fewer shots, but arguably six of the best eight chances in the game were from DCU. Emilio has an itchy trigger foot and that’s okay because he also has a the ability to move slightly to the right or the left to find space. Luckily for him, MLS defenders have yet to realize that they also have the ability to move slightly one way or the other.
Moreno still moves like old Al Roker but he has feet like Michelle Kwan. He botched his best chance of the game when he out-maneuvered the defense on a give and go at the edge of the box. DCU has to get credit for using brilliant systems like the give and go that teams like the Wizards have never seen before. How do they even think of these things?! Giving? The going? Amazing.
His goal actually made me feel bad for the Wizards. Afterwords I thought, “that’s a Zach Wells goal all the way.” The way Hartman just stood there waiting for something to come to the near post. The way Moreno didn’t do that much to the ball, just a nick. It could have been an easier play, but Hartman was just sort of chillin’ and yoinks! There goes the ball.
DCU still hasn’t recovered from its recent weak play entirely. In the games leading up to the SuperLiga, DCU walked onto the field and was going to destroy the other team. This game, DCU fought through the struggles to get there.
But they got there. And getting Carroll some experience was beneficial. He played reasonably well. Though spotty, there’s hope that this defense can pick it up. Without the Fighting Gonzalos the defense is young. Two years from now it could be intimidating even. Of course some of them will be traded by then, no doubt. For this year, let’s hope that the bench will be deeper and the team will be better. Maybe in the next game, instead of the “bend but don’t break” defense, DCU can install the “let’s take the ball from the other team before a shot gets taken” defense.
Until that time comes, it’s still up to the offense to make up for any breakages that occur.
Harsh reality setting in for toothless Wizards offense
By THAD BELL
The Wizards should have been looking forward to going to DC to play. The United were without several starters and were trying to incorporate 2 new players into the lineup. DC has not played well lately and their last game at home was a loss to Houston.
Kansas City has not been scaring other teams lately but they have at least been consistent enough to be undefeated in the previous 6 games. Josh Wolff being added in the last month and being “game fit” could only help the offense. Right?
Well reality set in, Wolff has a hamstring injury that he received in practice and Ryan Pore is starting up top in his place. Ryan tends to play very well in reserve games but has not scored an MLS goal since 2006. Davy Arnaud is starting up top with Ryan, and Claudio Lopez is now supposed to be playing right mid, a position I have not seen him play yet. The rest of the team lines up pretty much like we expect.
The game starts well for the Wizards with a couple dangerous opportunities in the first 15 minutes or so. Arnaud, Morsink and Jewsbury all have some good chances. The tide starts really turning between the 15th and 20th minute.
In the 28th minute, Moreno dodges the sliding tackle from Morsink and slides the ball past most of the Wizards defense to Luciano Emilio who was waiting in the box.
DC United’s Brazilian DP takes a couple steps while Jimmy Conrad tries unsuccessfully to recover. Emilio shoots it past Conrad’s foot and into the corner of the goal where Hartman had little chance. DC United started to dominate and other than Arnaud, the Wizards did not look good for the rest of the half.
After the half, Coach brings on Matt Marquess to replace Pore. Matt goes to left back and Harrington move to right mid, displacing Claudio back up top. So, we need to score a goal to tie and we bring on a defender. Is that proof enough that we have a problem scoring?
58th minute, Kerry Zavagnin replaces Kurt Morsink. Again we bring on someone who is more defensive minded. Kerry has always been one of my favorite players but I am not sure that is when I would have used him. I am sure coach has a plan; I just wish I knew what it was!
So of course, only two minutes after coming in the game, Kerry has to foul Moreno. While there is some question by the announcers whether or not it was a legitimate foul, it was committed. Jaime Moreno goes down and now there is good scoring opportunity a few yards of the corner of the box. Marc Burch takes the kick and with a wicked spin arcs it through towards the far post. Jaime Moreno jumps up and the spinning
ball rolls off the outside of his head and around the diving Kevin Hartman. Really not sure how much Moreno affected the flight path but it was enough to get credit for the goal.
While the Wizards went on to out-shoot DC (17-8) and we even got almost half the shots on goal, few of the shots truly tested Zach Wells. DC’s keeper got his first shutout of the year.
When the Wizards have played a team that was shorthanded, they come up short. The previous game at home against a weakened Chicago was a scoreless tie, shorthanded Columbus embarrassed us in June, and an underpowered New England team whipped the Wizards in April.
Kansas City is now 5-6-7 with 22 points. One bright spot, the Wizards reserves beat the DC reserves 4-2 Sunday morning. The reserves are 5-1-2 to lead the reserve division with 17 points. At this rate, the reserves will end up with more points at the end of the year; they already lead the senior team in goal scoring by 4 goals in 10 fewer matches.
Perhaps the next time we play a shorthanded team we should send in the reserves.