Thursday, March 29, 2007

Eddie Johnson to Boca Jrs.?

So apparently Boca Jrs. are interested in signing Kansas City Wizards forward Eddie Johnson. According to this article, and some reports on ESPN Deportes and GolTV the Buenos Aires club is interested in signing the striker. Here's a basic translation of it thanks to a poster on bigsoccer. The basic gist of it is that the club is trying to expand their worldly appeal by signing different players. The club in the past has brought in players from Asia in hopes of increasing their appeal, and are now turning towards the American market.

Apparently while the Wizards were down in Argentina for preseason this year, Johnson impressed in training down there. This move wouldn't be to play in the first team. This is a front office move by the Boca front office to improve their marketing. The other players that have come to Boca have all sat on the bench. It's a difference between the front office policy and the coach's policy.

From the perspective of a Wizards fan for this season I'm completely against this move. While EJ has been an incredibly annoying and frustrating player in his time in KC, he's miles ahead of any other talent at forward except for Scott Sealy. Getting rid of EJ would leave our starting forwards as likely Sealy and Ryan Pore. Call me crazy but that doesn't exactly strike me as a forward line that will strike fear into the hearts of defenders and goalkeepers around the league. True they had the same number of goals last season, but comparatively who would you rather have up top, Ryan Pore or Eddie Johnson. I'd take Johnson any time. Pore is a good off the bench backup forward, I don't see him as an everyday starting forward. With where we are currently at player wise it's doubtful we'd bring in anyone to take Eddie's place that would play forward, and what's already looking like a bleak season will get even bleaker.

Keep Eddie in KC, as Wynalda said last night, allow a coach like Curt Onalfo, a player's coach, to have a shot at Eddie and turning him around. You can already see some changes in his game just by watching the US game last night.

In some other interesting news, the Wizards now have competition on opening day on April 25 against Toronto. Starting at the same time as the Wizards game, is an MU-KU baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. While the baseball game isn't gonna be extremely crowded, it still is piss poor scheduling by someone in scheduling these both to start at the same time.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Notes from Robb Heineman

So for those of you that don't read bigsoccer, Robb Heinemann, the Kansas City Wizards president, has been posting occasionally on bigsoccer, asking the Wizards supporters on there about what the team can do better. That thread can be found here.

The reason I bring this up, is the fact that he has posted a response to many of the posts in that thread. You can read his response here.

Outside the normal rah-rah about the team and the stadium dealings, that you'd expect to get from the teams president, there are a few things that I want to touch on from his post.

Our South American scouting is developing rapidly. I think we started some really good relationships down there that are going to reap benefit for the club for years to come.

This is great news in my opinion, I look at what a team like DC has done with decent scounting systems in South and Central America, bringing them players like Chrisitian Gomez and Luciano Emilio, and I just hope that the Wizards can bring in players of that caliber to help improve this team.

Additionally, I'm pretty confident that we'll have a game exchange finished up in time for a game late this year - pending Arrowhead's availability. As a side note, I've heard you loud and clear and it's my goal to develop as many international and US soccer matches as possible in KC for years to come. Why wouldn't we.....

This is something I've touched on in the past, at the season ticket holder Christmas party, the team said they were working on a home-home series with a team, I'd love to have a friendly with a team from Argentina or Europe come to play the Wizards at Arrowhead, the last time the Wizards played an international game at home, was against
Deportivo Saprissa back before the 2005 season. The last friendly was all the way back in 1997. I also love the second part of that post, I want the US National team back in KC for a game. KC showed it can have a good showing for a match, see the qualifier for the 2002 WC for proof of that. KC has not gotten a game since, and it's about time they did.

By the way - season ticket holders will be getting access to videos of our Boca Juniors and Riverplate matches. I'm not sure if it will be via the internet or on DVD - stay tuned.
This is something fairly cool that I'm looking forward to and glad they are doing, it woulda been great if they'd had it online for us to watch before the season so we could see how the team looked, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

On another front, we're going to announce a south-of-the-border relationship either this week or next, depending on some logistics. This is going to be a great thing for our club on a number of fronts: (i) player development, (ii) game exchange, and (iii) marketing. I hope you're all pleased with the info as it comes out.
More excellent news, as we're one of the few teams in the league that doesn't have a partnership of some kind with another club. I'm sure many people would have preferred a big name European team, but this is a great start and could turn out to be something huge for the team. If anyone wants to make a guess about who they think it will be, feel free to comment.

Wizards News

Nothing major to report that I've found out about the team, just wanted to get some of the recent news out there and comment on it about the team.

The Kansas City Wizards were back in town on Thursday, and were out on Saturday night at the VooDoo Lounge for a meet the players night that was fairly enjoyable. This is one of the good things about soccer in this country and particularly MLS. The players are so approachable and easy to talk to. I was able to laugh with Sasha Victorine about UCLA beating KU in the NCAA tournament. In a world where most of the sports players in this country seem so above the fans, it's nice to have guys that are willing to spend time interacting with the fans. There are also 2 more chances to meet some of the Wizards players before their first game on the 7th. See this post on bigsoccer for details on gatherings on both the 5th and 6th of April.

The Wizards also updated their roster on Friday, with one roster spot left available, and 3 players still non-contract players listed on the website. The interesting thing, is that one of the none roster players, KC's fourth round pick of the superdraft, Kurt Morsink, is listed as a non contract player. Yet this article on MLSnet says that Morsink has been given Preki's old number, 11. You wouldn't go around announcing the guys number if he wasn't going to be on the roster come opening day. Especially considering that Morsink started many of the preseason games with the first team, as Victorine was out injured. So if Morsink is on the roster, then as of Friday, the roster was full.

Then came this news later Friday night. The Wizards traded back up central defender Shavar Thomas to LA for a conditional second round draft pick next season. I'm not liking this trade at all right now for KC. Shavar is one of the best backups in the league, and with Jimmy Conrad spending time with the National team this summer at either the Gold Cup or the CopaAmerica, KC was gonna need an experienced center back to team with Nick Garcia while Jimmy is away on nats duty. Now the Wizards will likely rely on either second year man Tyson Wahl, or rookieAaron Holbein. Wahl had 607 minutes in 10 games last season. Whoever is the first off the bench out of those 2 will be thrown to the fire early this season, as Nick is suspended for his red card at the end of last season and will miss the first game of the season at DC.

The one good that comes out of this trade is that it does open another roster spot up for another player. One can hope the continued rumors of an Argentinian playermaker are true and the Wizards are getting ready to make a signing. From deals with the old ownership of the Wizards though many Wizards fans are not holding their breath on anything coming of this.

Finally, Jimmy Conrad and Eddie Johnson both started for the US today in their match against Ecuador in Tampa, FL. Jimmy went the full 90 for the US in their 3-1 win, while Eddie was subbed off at the half. While Jimmy and the rest of the US back line looked very shaky in the first half, the US was level 1-1 as Landon Donovan scored in the first minute. In the second half, the US defense tightened up and Ecuador had very few really threatening chances in the second half. Donovan scored 2 more goals for his second career hattrick, the first on a break away similar to his goal against Mexico, and his other 1 minute later a rocket into the upper 90 to the keepers left. As I mentioned in my blog about their call up, Eddie has got to be running out of chances with the national team, as he had another lackluster performance for the US. Will be interesting to see if he even makes the bench for the game on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wizards preseason finished in Argentina

The Kansas City Wizards today finished their preseason training in Argentina today with a 4-0 win over River Plate. Over the course of the trip, the Wizards went 3-2-2, with wins over Defensa & Justicia reserves, Nuevo Chicago, and River Plate. Their two losses came against San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors. The two draws came against Defensa & Justicia first team, and San Lorenzo's reserves. I am missing the final roster stats for the match against Nuevo Chicago. The Wizards never released any game stats on their website. The only way I know that the Wizards won the game is through one of Kevin Hartman's blog entries from earlier in the week where he said, "Even when the rest of the team was dismantling Nuevo Chicago, a first division side, I was putting in interval work on the track." And mentioned the scorer of at least 2 of the goals: " While Davy Arnaud was scoring his second goal of the game, I was about halfway through my 30-minute session." So while the Wizards may have won that game by more then 2 goals I don't have any of the other information to put into the stats.

Unfortunately I have not been able to gain any more information about the match. The Wizards look like they may have at least 3 more friendlies to start the season. Two of them are on April 7th, while the rest of the league kicks off the regular season, the Wizards will host the Seattle Sounders, and the University of Evansville in final tuneups. Also according to this post on bigsoccer, they also have a game coming up on the 31st of March.

As of right now though, these are the Wizards stats this preseason.
6W - 4L - 3D

Goal Scorers
Scott Sealy - 3
Momadu Ba - 2
Jack Jewsbury - 2
Michael Harrington - 2
Davy Arnaud - 2
Willy Guadarrama - 2
Ryan Raybould - 2
Yura Movsisyan - 1
Jimmy Conrad - 1
Eddie Johnson - 1
Ryan Pore - 1
Lance Watson - 1
own goal - 1

Kevin Hartman - 2 split game shutouts
Eric Kronberg - 3 split game shutouts, and 1 solo
Chris Konopka - 1 split game shutout, and 1 solo

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wizards in Preason

These are some numbers that I've been able to find on the Kansas City Wizards current preseason friendlies.

4W - 3L - 3D

Goal Scorers
Scott Sealy - 3
Momadu Ba - 2
Jack Jewsbury - 2
YuraMovsisyan - 1
Willy Guadarrama - 1
Ryan Raybould - 1
Jimmy Conrad - 1
Eddie Johnson - 1
Ryan Pore - 1
Lance Watson - 1
own goal - 1

Kevin Hartman - 2 split game shutouts
Eric Kronberg - 3 split game shutouts
Chris Konopka - 1 split game shutout, and 1 solo

4 of the 10 games have been shutouts and have allowed 10 goals in those games while scoring 15 goals. One of the goal scorers, Momadu Ba, who scored twice against the U-17's in a split squad match is no longer listed on the roster. Also, according to this press release fromt he Wizards in late Feb., the Wizards listed their matches for the trip to Argentina. According to it, the Wizards were suppose to have played a friendly on Friday down there, but I have yet to see anything about that match anywhere. The also should be playing the final match of the Argentina trip on Wednesday before heading back to KC.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jimmy & Eddie to US Camp

With 2 friendlies coming up in late March, during the international break, The US Men's National team has 2 friendlies scheduled, on the 25th in Tampa against Ecuador, and on the 28th in Dallas against Guatemala. With that said, Bob Bradley announced his 24 man roster for those 2 games.

Two Wizards have been named to the team for the upcoming friendly. Jimmy Conrad and Eddie Johnson.

Jimmy has become indispensable in the back for the National Team, you'd expect him to start at least one of those games, possibly partnering with Oguchi Onyewu in a more "first team" look in one of the matches.

Eddie has got to be running low on chances with the US National Team, after bursting onto the scene a few years ago, he has not done much of anything to impress or continue to receive call ups to the national team. He's probably gonna be in camp against the best group of US forwards who haven't retired (read: McBride). So this is his time to prove that he still deserves to be a part of the National Team.

Missing from the list in my opinion is another Kansas City Wizard, Jose Burciaga Jr. With the recent injury that will keep Jonathan Bornstein out of camp, I had thought that Bob Bradley might have brought in the Wizards left back. Currently on the roster for left back is Heath Pearce although Carlos Bocanegra can also play on the left. In my opinion this camp woulda been a good time to bring Jose in to see if he can step his game up to the national team level, because with 2 tournaments this summer for the national team, the depth at all the positions are going to be tested.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bannister Mall

News continues to come out about the Kansas City Wizards and a possible stadium site where Bannister Mall currently sits.

While Olathe continues to work to get STAR Bonds approved for the stadium, Kansas City seems to be working to woo the Wizards to the Bannister Mall location. KC Councilman, Chuck Eddy is wanting to get the team out to the Bannister site.
“We’re still talking with the Wizards and trying to make this a reality,” Eddy says. “It would be huge, there’s no doubt about it.”

The Bannister site is also close to the old Marion Labs buildings which Cerner is now leasing. Cerner is owned by Neil Patterson who is a prinicpal owner of the Wizards. Which you can't chalk up to just coincidence that these 2 things are happening.

Apparently enough progress has been made on the topic that " The Economic Development Corporation has published a notice for a public hearing at the April TIF Commission meeting." These are big steps being made, and is good news for Wizards fans that want a stadium. The TIFs, Tax increment financing, that are referred to, are a tool for redevelopment and community improvement projects. They are the same thing that was used on the old Blue Ridge Mall to bulid the Wal-Mart at I-70 and 40 Highway.

As I've mentioned in the past, I like the fact that there are 2 sites kinda competing for the Wizards stadium. In the article, Eddy even talks about the competition, saying he's worried about what Olathe could offer the team. As he mentions, neither the city, nor the state have anything that could compete with the STAR Bonds that Olathe is looking to get to help finance the stadium.

Both sites have their pros/cons, the Olathe site would be close to the precieved target market for the Wizards team, the soccer moms and dads in Johnson County. The main con is the fact that Olathe is on the edge of the metro area. Only recently has Olathe truly become a full fleged suburb of KC as the suburban sprawl has reached Olathe.

Bannister on the other hand is a more centralized location for the Kansas City area. It also has great highway access, which Eddy touches on as well in the first article, as it is right off of I-435, and just north of the Grandview Triangle where 71, and I-470 meet with 435. It's main draw back is something I have touched on previously, and that's the preconcieved notion that the Bannister Mall location is a high crime area and not a good place to go.

Here's a link to google maps with Bannister Mall on it for those of you that might not know where Bannister Mall is.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wizards Offseason

With the season about a month away and the Kansas City Wizards first game of the season against Seattle in a friendly on April 7th, it's time for a look at what the Wizards have done in comparison to the team the Wizards put on the field last season.

Here's the Wizards lineup for their last game of the season, on the road against New York:
Bo Oshoniyi, Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Ryan Raybould (Yura Movsisyan 69), Jose Burciaga Jr., Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Sasha Victorine, Dave van den Bergh (Ryan Pore 77), Josh Wolff, Scott Sealy,

Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Shavar Thomas, Tyson Wahl, Lance Watson, Kerry Zavagnin

First off let's see who's no longer on the Wizards roster.
Bo Oshoniyi was waived, Dave van den Bergh was traded to New York for a supplemental draft pick, and Will Hesmer was taken in the expansion draft and then traded to Columbus.

Now let's look at the Wizards big pickups this offseason:
Kevin Hartmen was picked up in a trade with LA, Michael Harrington was drafted in the first round of this years draft.

Earlier this offseason, Curt Onalfo said that the 2 main areas the team needed to improve was goalkeeping and midfield. Goalkeeper has been taken care of, the trade for Hartmen is an upgrade over Oshoniyi. Then last Friday, the Wizards released a press announcement with the senior roster for this year. In the announcement was this quote from Onalfo: "When (Technical Director) Peter Vermes and I took over the leadership on the technical side of the organization, we identified the areas we wanted to improve," Kansas City Wizards Head Coach Curt Onalfo said. "I think we tackled those issues during the off-season and I'm comfortable with the roster as it stands now. I'm optimistic we will have a successful 2007 season."

Excuse me Curt, but what happened to getting a midfielder? The midfield is still a very weak spot for the Wizards, currently on the roster there is only 1 maybe 2 midfielders that aren't afraid to take defenders on. The rest are mainly a mixture of unproven players and defensive mids. There's been no improvement there and right now we're gonna be playing the same "bypass the midfield" game we played last season where we just hoof the ball forward to the forwards.

It's frustrating to see other teams going out and improving their team greatly while KC sits on it's hands "comfortable with the roster as it stands." DC signed Luciano Emilio, who's already made an impact in the CONCACAF Champion's Cup, and look like they're going to be signing Fred from Austrailian. Toronto FC is looking to be the strongest expansion team since Chicago back in 98. New York has improved themselves and with a full season under Arena is going to be better.

Overall the Wizards just don't look like they'll be competitive this season, they've addressed 1 need, but haven't touched any other needs, and in that time other teams in the conference have improved, including the one closest to us last season, New York. They'll be missing Conrad, Johnson, and possibly Sealy during the summer for National team duty. This is basically the same group of players that have missed the playoffs the past 2 seasons. Right now I see the Wizards missing the playoffs for the third year in a row, and fighting to avoid finishing 13th out of 13 teams this season.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Wizards vs Fiji???

I was bored today and started searching around the internet, and came across this article from The Fiji Times a few days ago.

Apparently Fiji's national team is gonna be coming to the US in April in preparation for the South Pacific Games. They're gonna play 8 games on their tour and apparently are waiting for confirmation of their match against the Kansas City Wizards. The article also mentions Real Salt Lake and Santa Clara as being a couple of other teams that they will be playing.

This is an interesting idea. Fiji's first game in the US on this tour is scheduled for April 4 against Santa Clara.

After looking around The Fiji Times a bit more tonight, I found another article about the trip to the US. This article while stating that some of Fiji's players may not be available also gives the date of their match with Real Salt Lake, and the tentative date of their match with the Wizards, April 17, which is a Tuesday. That match with the Wizards though has yet to be confirmed as of the posting of that story earlier today(tomorrow, the 7th in Fiji).

One interesting thing about this though, is that the date of the possible friendly against Fiji is also the day before the Wizards play RSL in their US Open Cup qualifing match, which will likely lead to a very reserve based squad going out against Fiji if the friendly happens.

Another interesting note from that second article is that Fiji is apparently going to be scouting for national team players in their final two games. One of the matches looks to be against a group of Fiji All Stars. An interesting idea, but a concept that has been done by quite a few national teams. For instance I remember that Pat Noonan was elligable to play for the Irish national team.