The Wizards played well enough to win last night. However the same old song of not finishing was played.
The visiting Fire and Kansas City played to a 0-0 draw – a result that has KC tied with three other teams at 22 points in the East, and just out of the last playoff spot. Kevin Hartman made some very nice saves and pounced on the ball several times. Jon Busch made more saves but none of the shots had any juice behind them. The Wizards created offensive opportunities but there wasn’t much going on in the final third of the field. Defensively KC was able to shut down Blanco, Thorrington and Frankowski. I suppose Rolfe too, but from my perspective in the Cauldron, he didn’t do much. While still giving too much space to attackers in front of the penalty area, KC defenders marked pretty well and were able to clear dangerous balls. Both Jimmy and Aaron were on their game. Also Jewsbury and Harrington did well on Blanco, marking him closely and keeping him from being a factor. Though it did look like Harrington was going to get burned several times. And both Harrington and Jewsbury were very involved in the offense.
The Wizards looked on the verge of being dangerous. There was a ten minute or so stretch in the second half where it looked like KC could have put two or three in the net if someone could get their foot on the ball to finish. The Fire were on their back heels and looked poised to give up a goal. Of course it was not to be, and credit to the Chicago midfield for glutting up the attack and clearing the ball away until the Fire gained their own advantage.
Lopez and Wolff up top looked OK; not great. Arnaud and Espinoza were pretty dangerous and made good passes. Espinoza had several chances with a lot of space, but he needs to be a bit more decisive. Both Morsink and Victorine were OK in the midfield. We still need to improve here overall though. They both were always there for an outlet pass, but didn’t really make much happen, at the same time they weren’t detrimental. Sasha made several good runs, Kurt stayed back a bit more.
Wizards used all three substitutions. First one was Nelson Pizarro (first bench appearance) for Aaron Hohlbein(I think match report shows Espinoza, but pretty sure it was Aaron). I liked this move because KC was going for the win, though it didn’t’ come until the 80th minute. Pizarro is pretty fast. Would have been nice to have had him on about 5 minutes earlier though. Later in the 81st Pore and Trujillo came on for Lopez and Wolff. Pore didn’t do much and neither did Trujillo, though he did draw a foul (scissors slide tackled!) at the top of the box that wasn’t called(and it wasn’t called in dramatic fashion too).
KC could have had two penalties in the game. The first was on Espinoza who was making a run into the box and was clipped from behind, maybe the ref thought Roger threw himself to the ground … the other was a handball in the box but Geiger decided it was to be outside the box for a free kick, which Davy Arnaud did very poorly on-a wasted opportunity.
My player of the game is going to Kevin Hartman and his five saves. At least two of which were stellar in the first half. He also pounced on a few balls. Second player will go to Espinoza for being the most consistent, dangerous player on offense for this game. And third player goes to Micheal Harrington for his coverage of Blanco in the first half – though he did look a bit shaky at times.
Next up for KC is a trip to Washington, DC. We are six games unbeaten, 10 points in that stretch. DC have lost their last four games (1 MLS and 3 in SuperLiga)
Firing Away: Chicago at Kansas City Earthquakes Earthquackes ?
The Wizards can pull within a point of the Chicago Fire in the East this post-All Star weekend. And narrow the gap on New England and Columbus.
The Wizards are pretty injury free. Only Carlos Marinelli is out for this weekend. Chicago have Calen Carr who will miss the game due to injury, but they also have three others that will not play. Two of them are due to discipline, Brown and Prideaux, and the third is Chad Barrett who is to be traded to Toronto in the Brian McBride saga. This should benefit KC who should start 10 of the same 11 from last week(against Columbus) with Josh Wolff starting over Lance Watson (but with Wolff up to and Davy back to the right side). We saw at the end of the Crew game that Josh and Claudio were playing very well together. And there was no reason to not put Espinoza back on the bench, thus our DP should be back at the striker position.
Both teams are on unbeaten streaks. KC hasn’t lost in 5 MLS games, Chicago has not lost in four. KC getting 9 points in that stretch; Chicago with six points. Here’s the MLSnet game preview. KC has historically not done well against Chicago, however as of last years KC win in Chicago, the Wizards have the edge when at home. But only a 7-6 edge in wins. Even so, throw that stuff out the window. KC seems to be clicking a bit better. More shooting and much better passing. Could it be they are coming together in time for a second half run?
Here’s the weather report for tomorrow. It’s going to feel like 100 F in the hours leading up to the game. Some thunderstorms and humidity. By the time the game kicks off it will only be slightly cooler. It could be very uncomfortable watching this game. I look forward to seeing how KC responds to this heat.
Now, KC won 1-0 in Chicago on a Jack Jewsbury goal in what seems a long time ago. If they can win in Chicago, and also score three goals in a revenge game against Columbus, then I think they have a great shot at beating this Chicago team at CAB.
And remember: Wiz on the Fire (Rinse; Repeat.)