Sunday, June 03, 2007

Eddie Does the Trick or We're on Top of the League

Eddie Johnson went off for another hattrick to help lead the Wizards past the league leading Red Bulls, 3-2. With the win, the Wizards are now on top of the MLS table with 19 points. The hattrick by Johnson, his second in as many games, is an MLS record.

The game started out very well for the Wizards, they tested Red Bulls keeper Jon Conway inside the first 2 minutes. Things though did not continue to go well, a poor clearance by Jose Burciaga was gathered up by Claudio Reyna. He chipped it into the box, where it was flicked on by John Wolyniec to Juan Pablo Angel who one timed it into the net to make it 1-0. The Wizards came back down, and Johnson had a header saved by Conway's trailing leg. The Wizards were starting to control the game. Then Clint Mathis got himself red carded for violent conduct after he elbowed Kerry Zavagnin in the throat. The severity of the elbow and the card will be debated by Red Bull and Wizard fans for the next few weeks. The Wizards continued to control the game for the rest of the first half, but were unable to find the net.

Less then a minute into the second half, though, the Wizards finally found the net. Taking advantage of the slower back line of New York, KC started playing more balls over the top to let guys like Davy Arnaud, Johnson, and Michael Harrington to run onto them. Johnson ran onto a long ball from Harrington, and with a deft touch, lifted it over Conway and into the net to tie the game. It was Johnson's 7th goal of the season, tying him with Taylor Twellman for the league lead. The Wizards continued to use their man advantage, and speed advantage to test New York's backline, Harrington almost gave the Wizards the lead a few minutes after Johnson, and Arnaud had 2 good opportunities to put the Wizards in front.

In the end Johnson was gonna be the hero again. a great low cross by Bruciaga made it through the Red Bull box all the way to an unmarked Johnson on the back post who calmly beat Conway to put the Wizards in front. Johnson completed his hattrick in the 85th minute on a 2v2 with Sasha Victorine. Victorine pulled one defender, and Johnson split the 2 to run onto the ball, take a touch, look up, and place it in the corner past Conway. Major celebrations had to hold out for a little while when Dema Kovalenko scored in the 88th to make it 3-2, but the Wizards were able to hold on and move on top of the league.

You could tell how much this game meant to the players after the game was over, the excitment on their faces as they thanked the Cauldron, and Arnaud's intensity on his face as he came over and thanked the group. The Wizards now have next week off to heal up completely before going to New York to take on the same Red Bulls.

3 Stars of the Game
1. Eddie Johnson - KC - All this man does is score hattricks. The Wizards though will need to find other scorers for the next few weeks, as Eddie is gone to the Gold Cup with the US team.
2. Jon Conway - NY - The game could have been a lot worse last night, but Conway stood on his head and made some great saves to keep New York in the game.
3. Michael Harrington - KC - Battled on the same wing as fellow rookie of the year nominee, Dane Richards. In my opinion, Harrington won the battle between the two of them tonight, putting him in the poll position for ROTY at the moment.

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