Monday, June 30, 2008

US Open Cup Time

For the first time in a couple years, the Wizards enter the US Open Cup proper. Tomorrow night they take on the Carolina Railhawks of USL-1. The last time the Wizards were in the US Open Cup, they defeated the Des Moines Menace 2-1 before losing 2-0 to Chicago. The Wizards come in on the backs of their 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. The Railhawks also come in off of a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers at home. Including the US Open Cup, the Railhawks are undefeated at home this season, at 5-0-3. Even though they've struggled as of late in league play, the Railhawks will be a formidable opponent tomorrow night and will come in ready to repeat last year, when they defeated Chicago in the Open Cup.

With a game coming up this Friday in Dallas, Coach Onalfo has said that only 1-2 "starters" will play in the game against the Railhawks. The question is, what Onalfo meant by starters? Did he mean the starters from last Saturday against Salt Lake, or starters in general? I'm guessing it's the guys from Saturday night. That said I have to agree with the lineup that KC Futbol put out on the game.
Leathers - McKenzie - Wahl - Marquess
Myers - Marinelli - Espinoza
Trujillo - Pore

The only possible change I could see, is playing Ryan McMahen (who made the bench Saturday night) in the middle next to Zavagnin in a flat midfield and Marinelli playing on the left wing, with Espinoza making way.

PREDICTION - Onalfo has said that he'd be taking the cup seriously, and honestly this is probably the Wizards best chance at silverware this season. Hopefully a team that will likely be mainly Wizards reserves will be able to take out the Railhawks tomorrow night. If the Wizards take this, I unfortunately for the game on Friday, see this game being decided in extra time.

KC - 2 (Pore, Espinoza)
Car - 1 (Antoniuk)

Wizards Sign Wolff

Bob Luder and the KC Star are reporting that Josh Wolff is now a member of the Kansas City Wizards... again. The rumors of Wolff coming back to MLS had been around for the last week or so, and today we have word that he's officially back in Kansas City. Wolff, who scored 27 goals for the Wizards during his first stay with the team will hopefully add to that total quickly, as the Wizards need scoring help and fast this season. Wolff is currently in Atlanta according to the article, so I'd expect him to at least be in Carolina tomorrow night for the US Open Cup game against the Railhawks, and possibly make his debut against Dallas on Friday. The contract is for the rest of this year and next with options for the next two.

Hopefully this turns out better then the last story the Star broke on a player coming to KC. But with actual quotes from Wolff and other sources picking up on the story, this deal is done.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

They All Count

Photo courtesy of Alan Hainkel/CLP

Yes, it was an own goal, yes one of our players still haven't scored since Claudio Lopez against LA, but all that will matter in the end is that the scoreline says 1-0 with KC being on top. In a game that KC had the better of possession and the more dangerous of play, they could only manage 1 goal.

Winning the toss, KC made Salt Lake go into the sun in the first half, which helped to negate much of Salt Lake's offense in the first half. The hope had to have been to get the ball high and make Nick Rimando look into the sun. KC couldn't create a clean chance though. In fact, the best chance of the half was when Kenny Deuchar got in behind Jimmy Conrad and Aaron Hohlbein. Deuchar's shot was fairly tame, though and taken care of by Kevin Hartman.

In the second half, KC continued to have the better of play, but their shooting had not improved as most of their chances went high or wide. One of the best didn't even count as a shot, as Davy Arnaud put a cross into Claudio Lopez at the back post. Lopez headed the ball back across the face of goal, but was just a little to high for Jack Jewsbury who had made a late crashing run into the box. The introduction of Carlos Marinelli also helped to give more play to KC, as he played like someone who was looking to get his starting spot back. He was actually fairly quick on the ball and playing very smart. Another sub, Chance Myers, also missed a glorious chance, as a cross came to him all alone at the back post, he was able to trap it down, but he skied his shot well over the goal.

Finally, in the 89th minute, just when it looked like KC would have their second straight 0-0 draw, and their 4th straight game without scoring, Davy Arnaud swung a free kick into the box. Conrad challenged for it with Tony Beltran, who got his head on it, but headed it into his own net to give the Wizards a deserved 1-0 lead. The entire second half, you could tell that if KC could get their shots on net that a goal was going to come, and it finally did. In fact after the goal, KC almost made it two, when Scott Sealy rounded Rimando but his shot was blocked off the line for an RSL defender.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Conrad - Yet another great battle with Kenny Deuchar, Captain Kansas City solidified the defense and helped to give KC their 3rd shutout in 4 games. Not a bad run for the defense, now if the offense would just start to pick it up, the team could begin to look dangerous.

Honorable Mention - Aaron Hohlbein, Jack Jewsbury

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hoping for a Win

We're back home again this weekend. This time it's to take on Real Salt Lake. Salt Lake is coming in on a 5 game winning streak, including their first road win of the season, a 1-0 result at Chivas USA. Other then that win, though, Salt Lake is 0-5 on the road. So here's to hoping that Salt Lake returns to their regular road form against us tomorrow night.

Overall, Saturday is going to be a busy day. I'm going to be out there pretty early as two good friends of mine are getting married on the field at 2 pm. So when you're watching the game, look for the people in the Cauldron in wedding attire, I'm sure I'll be somewhere nearby. Forgive me for the shorter right up as I'm getting ready to head to the rehearsal dinner. If you want a full look at my view of the game, check out the write up I did for the RSL Blog, Keepin' It Real.

Here's the lineup I posted there, and the lineup that's been used in practice lately.
Jewsbury - Hohlbein - Conrad - Harrington
Arnaud - Victorine - Morsink - Lopez
Trujillo - Sealy

PREDICTION - The Wizards need a win this weekend, anything less and the playoffs become a stretch. We're already 6 points out of 6th place in the East, so we'll need a win streak of our own if we hope to make any kind of noise this season. But with the way our offense has played lately, I'm not seeing it.

KC - 1 (Lopez)
RSL - 1 (Beckerman)

State Budget Passed Stadium Moving Along

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt today signed the Missouri budget for this coming fiscal year. Part of the budget included the state TIF funding for the Bannister Mall redevelopment and the Wizards soccer stadium.

With that signed, there is now only 1 more hurdle for the Wizards and Lane4 to get over before construction can begin. They have to now petition the Department of Economic Development to release the approved funds for use. That will likely be on their meeting agenda when they get together on August 19th. One step closer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My New Cleats

I've had a little more time to work in my new Nike Mercurial Talaria IV Soccer Shoes from, and my first impression hasn't changed at all. I really do like these cleats. Playing in them I feel like I have a great touch on the ball, I feel like I can feel the ball better in these shoes. One of my original problems with them was that the synthetic leather was too tight and hard to get onto my foot. After playing in them a bit, the leather has loosened up a little bit and they go onto my feet easier. They're not too loose that it takes away from my foot's feel on the ball.

I like that the shoes are so light as well, you don't really notice the difference between weight in shoes until you are wearing really light ones. It's just a different feel when you're running with them then with heavier cleats. The last few years I've made it a point to always get cleats that didn't have laces in the "sweet spot", either they were covered by a flap or the laces were underneath leather. After spending more time with these cleats I've realized that that sort of thing isn't as important as I once though, I can still strike the ball just as well with these as with ones that have the laces covered.

I also mentioned earlier about the extra padding that was in the heals of the cleats. I thought at the time that these would help to avoid blisters on your heals, which was a problem my friends complained about with other Nike cleats. That didn't turn out to be entirely true, while they have more padding on them then I expected, they still don't have a lot in the heal, I've come home with blisters on my heals. Overall, though, that is my only complaint about the cleats, and that can easily be solved by putting a little padding or an under sock on to help protect the heal just a bit. I'm very happy with these cleats, definitely a good pair of cleats that I'd recommend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Home Quaterfinal

The draw for the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup occurred today. Should the Wizards win next Tuesday against the Carolina Railhawks, they will play either Chivas USA or the Seattle Sounders. Should the Wizards and Chivas advance the Wizards will travel out to the Home Depot Center to play Chivas USA on July 8th. Should the Sounders win, the Wizards will play them at Qwest Field in Seattle.

Josh Wolff to KC (Editorial)

So the news now is that Kansas City could be bringing back in former Wizard, Josh Wolff to try and help cure their scoring woes. Those woes include only scoring 10 goals this season, 1 less then Landon Donovan has himself. They also include a current scoreless streak of 320 minutes, and been shut out a total of 5 times, which is as many times they've shut out a team. The question is, would he be able to solve the Wizards problems? I personally have my doubts. Wolff has never been as great a scorer as many would have liked him to become. His career high in MLS is 10 goals. Not exactly a great strike rate for a guy that is supposed to help cure the Wizards scoring woes.

On top of that, Wolff has scored only 1 goal in the postseason in his entire MLS career. This includes a a seven year span from 98 to 04 where his team made the playoffs ever season. His lone goal was a PK in MLS Cup 2004. Not the type of scorer you want on your team in crunch time. Even when he was in Germany he wasn't lighting it up. In the season and a half he was in Germany he played 34 times and scored a total two times. Another sign that he's not the type of player that will cure the teams scoring woes. Then there is Wolff's injury history, he's never been a player known to stay healthy, and that will likely continue as he gets older.

So if I'm not in favor of Wolff, I probably should give some examples of who the team could get instead. One guy that isn't under contract to a team right now, is Nate Jaqua. Jaqua played last season with LA and Houston scoring 8 goals in 25 games between the two clubs. He helped to provide striker support for Houston as they made their way to their second straight MLS Cup. After the season he signed with SCR Altach in Austria where he scored 5 goals in 10 games with the club. Jaqua is also just starting to hit hi prime at 26, unlike Wolff who at 31 is likely past his prime. The one issue with Jaqua is that his rights are probably still held by Houston, so some draft pick would likely need to be traded to Houston for his rights.

Adam Cristman could possibly be pulled away from New England. With Kheli Dube, Sainey Nyassi, Kenny Mansally who can all play forward, and that's not even counting Taylor Twellman. The Wizards could possibly persuade the Revolution to part with Cristman for the right price.

Another option is to continue off of the work that Peter Vermes recently did in Hungary, and see if the team can find a good player through that route. Or go back to the well in Argentina and see if a player that impressed when playing against the Wizards in preseason would be available.

In the end, I just feel there are better options then a forward like Wolff who is getting older and past his prime. I also feel that a forward like Wolff is not the type of forward we need. We need a forward that can get on the end of crosses consistently with his head, a guy that can at least consistently hold the ball up. That's why I think a guy like Jaqua would be the way to go. He's still fairly young and I think would do well here with Claudio Lopez swinging the ball into him.

Wolff Returning to KC?

An interesting rumor making the rounds thanks to the American Soccer Reader. The article stats that the Wizards are interested in bringing back in the former striker. Wolff left the Wizards for 1860 Munich after the 2006 season. Since then he's struggled a bit at Munich scoring only twice in 34 appearances for the club.

The Wizards are struggling for offense, but I don't see Wolff as being the answer. His style of play is too similar to that of Claudio Lopez and just doesn't look like it would work for the Wizards. Wolff seemed disinterested in KC, and from what I understand was never overly happy to be here. We'll have to wait and see what, if anything comes of this rumor.

UPDATE: And here is an article from MLSnet with quotes from Coach Onalfo and Peter Vermes about the potential signing of Wolff. This rumor looks to be picking up steam.

UPDATE 2: The KC Star has picked up on the rumor as well, and has quotes directly from Josh Wolff on the situation. Wolff says that he has held talks with the league and the team about him coming back to KC, and MLS director of communications Will Kuhns, says the Wizards still own his rights which would make it easier for him to come back to KC. Still not sure about this move though.

Juniors U19s Win Regionals

Was just told that the Wizards Juniors U19 team won regionals today in Rockford, IL. They defeated Scott Gallagher of MO 1-0 this morning in the final. The Juniors now advance to Nationals which will begin July 22nd through the 27th in Little Rock, AR. Congratulations to the Juniors.

Here is the team's roster:

Pos Player Hometown College

GK Scott Angevine Overland Park, KS Coastal Carolina

GK Alex Burton Lansing, KS Baker University

M Ian Christiansen Lee's Summit, MO Graceland University

D Austin Eanes Scituate, MA Evansville University

F Giovanni Edward Toronto, Canada Graceland College

D Matt Griffin Olathe, KS Baker University

D Brett Heinz Leawood, KS Graceland University

M Colton Henning Shawnee, KS Furman University

M Willie Koss Overland Park, KS Graceland University

M Matt Kuhn Raytown, Mo Drake University

F Chase McCoy Blue Springs, MO Hastings College

F Curt McDonald Leawood, KS Furman University

M Michael McDonald Leawood, KS Rockhurst University

D Kyle Miller Overland Park, KS Rockhurst University

M/F Spencer Nash Shawnee, KS Baker University

D Tyler Nichol Blue Springs, MO Rockhurst University

D/M Michael Perry Overland Park, KS Denver University

F Kelly Porter Wichita, KS Coastal Carolina

M Tyler Schwab Leawood, KS Marquette University

M/F Josh Westberg Overland Park, KS Loyola-Chicago

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Late PK Sees KC Heading to Carolina

A penalty kick in the 90th minute by Kupono Low put the Carolina Railhawks through to the third round of the US Open Cup. The Railhawks almost went down a goal a couple times in the first half, but were saved by Chris McClellan. Real Maryland had the better of the chances in the first half. In the second half, though, it was all Railhawks. They dominated play, but were unable to get many great chances on net. Finally in the 90th minute, a through ball was played to Jamil Walker, who was taken out by Emilio Zelaya in the box. Low converted the PK, setting up the third round match a week from tonight against the Wizards in Cary, NC.

Open Cup Opponent

The Wizards will find out their opponent on for the third round of the US Open Cup tonight. They will be facing either the Carolina Railhawks of USL-1 or Real Maryland of USL-2. They play tonight in Cary, NC. The game preview is over on It also appears that the game will be on USL Live for free tonight the game is starting now.

U19s in Regional Finals

I was just informed that the Wizards Juniors U19 team just won their regional semifinal match against the Chicago Fire Jrs, 3-1. The win puts the Juniors into the regional finals that will take place tomorrow. Their opponent will either be Scott Gallagher (MO) or Arsenal Bluejays (NE). Their game is in overtime at the time of this posting.

UPDATE: Scott Gallagher will be the Juniors opponents in the U19 finals. Gallagher defeated the Bluejays 3-2 in their semifinal today. The game will be tomorrow morning at 8 am.

Monday, June 23, 2008

U19s advance at Regionals

The Wizards Juniors U19 team was the only one of the three Juniors teams at regionals to advance out of the group stage today at Region II regionals in Rockford. The U16 team started out the day with a draw against Team Ohio FC 1-1. So while they finished undefeated at 1-0-2, they were second in the group behind Vardar (who they beat 4-2), who went 2-1. They finished ahead of Team Ohio (1-1-1), and Iowa Soccer Club (0-2-1).

The U17s suffered the first loss by the Juniors at regionals, when they lost 1-0 to FC Barrington of Illinois. The Juniors finished in 3rd place in the group at 1-1-1. Springfield SC won the group at 2-0-1 (Barrington was second at 2-1 and NWI United fourth at 0-3).

The U19 team got the win they needed against United SC 96 Int'l of Kentucky 3-0. They also got some help from the Nebraska team, Arsenal Bluejays, who beat FC Milwaukee Blue 3-0 to hand the Juniors the group with a record of 2-0-1, ahead of the Bluejays (2-1), Milwaukee (1-1-1), and United (0-3). The 19s now play tomorrow, although their opponent is not listed on the website yet.

UPDATE: The U-19's opponent tomorrow at noon in the semifinals will be the Chicago Fire Jrs Red from IL. Arsenal Bluejays, who the Juniors beat in group play also advanced as the wild card. They will play Scott Gallagher of MO in the other semifinal.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Juniors Undefeated at Regionals

After 2 games for each of the 3 Wizards Juniors teams at regionals, the 3 teams are undefeated with a 3-0-3 record. The U-19 team opened with a 1-0 win Saturday against the Arsenal Blujays before getting a 1-1 draw today with FC Milwaukee Blue. Their final game is tomorrow and need to win to advance as their groups winners. They need to overcome the 1 more goal difference that Milwaukee has on them. There is a wild card in their age division though as well.

The U-17s opened with a 6-1 win over NWI United before drawing with Springfield SC of MO today 1-1. They also need to win tomorrow against FC Barrington of IL and keep the goal difference they have over Springfield SC. The U-16's opened with a 2-2 draw with Iowa SC. They defeated Vardar of Michigan today. They play Team Ohio SC tomorrow, a win of any kind will see them through to the next round.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Point is a Point

Well, today was better that last week. That's at least one thing the Wizards can take from the game today in Toronto, they looked much better then they did last week against Columbus. The Wizards still couldn't find net though, and drew 0-0 with Toronto FC at BMO Field today. The Wizards had a few chances in the first half, with Scott Sealy firing just wide and heading wide in the first half. Davy Arnaud also headed wide in the first half, as the Wizards attempted to dictate the tempo, but Toronto was able to hold off and had their fair share of chances as well.

In the second half, Toronto continued to have the better of play and possession, and shots were at a minimum. One of Toronto's best chances came after Amado Guevara was introduced into the game (he along with 3 other regular starters for Toronto, Greg Sutton, Maurice Edu, and Jim Brennan all started on the bench because of their World Cup Qualifiers last week). Guevara received the ball and fired a hard shot high to Hartman's near post. Hartman got up and was able to parry the shot away.

In stoppage time, it looked like Toronto had pulled off a late winner when Laurent Robert's free kick found Danny Dichio, who turned it in, but Dichio was offsides and the goal was rightly called back. About a minute after that play, the Wizards found themselves down a man when Roger Espinoza, in his first appearance since his red card in Columbus, was red carded for an elbow to the back of the head of a Toronto player after he appeared to be fouled by the player. The lack of composure on Espinoza's part didn't hurt the Wizards though, as the final whistle blew before Toronto was able to mount a good attack.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Conrad - Conrad helped to anchor the back line after a poor performance against Columbus. Conrad and the back line helped hold Toronto to only 7 shots, and only 4 on goal, getting Kevin Hartman his 5th shutout of the courtesy of Thad Bell

Honorable Mention - Michael Harrington, Jack Jewsbury, Kevin Hartman

Friday, June 20, 2008

On the Road Again

The Wizards hit the road again to take on Toronto FC tomorrow at BMO Field. Toronto won the first meeting between these two sides earlier this year 2-0 on two goals by Amado Guevara. The Wizards have gotten only 2 points since that game, and the team hit a new low with the 3-0 loss to the Crew last weekend. Which team will we see on the field tomorrow? The same one that appeared on Saturday against Columbus or the team that won it's first two games at home? I would venture to guess we will see some changes on the field as well this Saturday. I figure there are going to be a few made to try to shake things up.

Myers - Conrad - Wahl - Harrington
Arnaud - Jewsbury - Morsink - Marinelli
Lopez - Sealy

PREDICTION - I'm not overly optimistic about this game, Toronto has been good at home ever since they came into the league. The Wizards are also not looking that good lately. They've struggled on defense and they've struggled on the offensive end of the field as well. Toronto is looking a lot better then we are. I'll be in Weston watching this game, but I'm not expecting much.

KC - 0
TFC - 2 (Dichio, Guevara)

Wizards Juniors Update

Three of the Wizards Juniors teams are at Region II regionals this weekend in Rockford, IL. The U-19, U-17, and U-16 teams all won their State Cup age group and moved on to regionals, which begin tomorrow for all three teams. The tournament concludes on the 25th. In the U-19 division, the team is in Group A, where they'll play Arsenal Bluejays (NE), United 96 SC Int'l (KY), and FC Milwaukee Blue (WI). The U-17 team plays in Group B against last years semifinalists, Springfield SC (MO), FC Barrington (IL), and NWI United (IN). In the U-16 division, the Juniors are in Group C with Iowa Soccer Club, Vardar (MI), and Team Ohio FC. Good luck to the Juniors, and hopefully we see some Regional Championship brought home this weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Colombano Release Official

Eloy Colombano has officially been released by the Wizards by "mutual agreement" according to the KC Star. The rumor had been out since earlier today, but it's now official. Colombano says in the article that his being away from home and his lack of playing time led to the mutual release. He got married this past offseason and has a new son. Colombano didn't join the Wizards for preseason training until the team got down to Argentina. I still wonder why Colombano didn't get more time with the Wizards over other players, but good luck to Colombano back in Argentina, many in KC will miss him.

Watch Party Weekend

The Wizards get back to action Saturday against Toronto FC in Toronto. Remember this weekend that the watch party is going to be up in Weston, MO at O'Malley's Irish Pub. Fans will get the chance to try the new Wizards specific beer. The Wizards are providing buses that will leave from both of the 810 Zone locations (in Leawood and the Plaza) in the KC Metro area.

If you're wanting to attend, you need to contact Adam Meloan at and he'll be able to get you hooked up with the bus for the ride up. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Award for Jimmy

Jimmy Conrad will be honored tonight by the KC Sports Commission. At the 36th annual awards banquet, Conrad will receive the Special Achievement Award for Professional Athletes. The award is going to be presented by Sprint. According to Hillcrest Road, the awards ceremony will be shown on delay on Metro Sports over the next few weeks. Congratulations to Jimmy Conrad on receiving this award.

Eloy Released?

Talk about shocking, this post over on The Back Post is saying that Wizards midfielder/forward, Eloy Colombano has been released by the Wizards. I'll post more if/when we get an official announcement from the team, but if true, is this a sign that the Wizards have someone in mind to replace him or is this Onalfo trying to shake things up because he's feeling the heat?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stadium News

It looks like we may be waiting on a bit more then just the governor's signature, like I had thought we were for the stadium. A few of the KC city council members presented the redevelopment to the Missouri Development Finance Board yesterday. While the group got a good vibe from the meeting, the article does has some pretty sobering news for Wizards fans. Councilman John Sharp said that a decision was not expected until their meeting on August 19th, and since this is one of the last major hurdles, will delay this project a bit further.

While Greg Cotton said on the radio recently that they are planning for a late summer/early fall demolition and start to construction, with a 14-16 month time frame, you have to begin to question whether the Wizards will have their stadium done in time for the 2010 season, or whether they will begin the season with an extended road trip.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best Paid Benchwarmers

Forbes has put out a list of the best paid benchwarmers in all the major sports. Included in the list are MLS players. The fact that Forbes is including MLS in it's list is definitely a good sign for the league. Jeff Cunningham, Ante Razov, William Conde, and Franco Niell are all on the list. Along with those 4, is Wizards midfielder, Sasha Victorine. According to the article, Sasha is making $153,700 this season but has played in only 5 games.

Overall it's an interesting article, but their writing on MLS is a little misrepresented. Razov is normally going to be a starter for Chivas USA, but has been relegated to a reserve role due to an injury. The same can be said in part about Victorine, who likely would have played more minutes this season if not for an injury in preseason and the beginning of the season. Still it's good to see MLS represented with the biggest sports in the country.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drown Your Sorrows

The way the Wizards played last night would drive almost any Wizards fan to drink. This week the Wizards go back on the road as they play Toronto. The good news is that it will be easier for you drown your sorrows next weekend should they play just as bad, thanks to the Wizards. The Wizards are going to be hosting a watch party for the Toronto game out at O'Malley's Irish Pub in Weston.

The big news about the watch party is that those that attend will get to try the new beer brewed specifically for the Wizards. Fans can sign up and get on the bus at either of the 810 Zone locations in KC. The entire think will cost you $12. More details on the Wizards blog.

Reserves Lose Too

The Wizards reserves followed the example of the first team, and lost 3-2 to the Columbus Crew in reserve league play today. Like the first team, the reserves fell behind 2-0 early. Unlike last night, though, the reserves fought back and Ryan Pore scored right before the half to make it 2-1. In the second half, the Wizards controlled the play, especially down their left wing. Matt Marquess on one of those runs, drew a penalty kick that Pore put away to tie the game at 2-2. The Wizards continued to have the better of possession, with Roger Espinoza and Ivan Trujillo have penalty shouts turned aside. Late in the match, the Crew struck again for the winner, giving them a clean sweep of the two games against the Wizards.

On a positive note, the Wizards supporters group defeated the Crew supporters in a match before the reserve game. While their team had more Wizards fans then Crew fans on it to make up numbers, they were still on the losing end, giving only a small amount of solace to Wizards fans.

Well, That was BAD

Photo courtesy of Alan Hainkel

It's hard to put into words just how bad the Wizards played last night. In front of an honest to god sell out crowd, the Wizards laid one of the biggest eggs in team history, with a 3-0 loss to the Crew. The Wizards looked unable to do the simplest of soccer basics like passing and marking. The Crew scored early and after that, the Wizards never looked like there were going to score. Their best chance was in the second half when Ryan Pore forced Will Hesmer to make a good save. The game was marred by poor defending from the Wizards. One word overall describes last night's performance, inept.

Today at the reserve game I got a chance to talk to Kerry Zavagnin, and he basically said it was one of the worse performances he's been a part of with the Wizards (the worst being the July 4th game years ago against Chicago).

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Honestly, I want to give it to someone, but I can't even think of someone that actually deserves the honor after that game. I'm going to give it to Sasha Victorine as he was the only Wizards player to make it over to the after party at Hooters after the game. (Not that I blame the players, but props to Sasha for facing the fans.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stadium Update

We have another update on the Wizards stadium, thanks to Greg Cotton. Cotton was on The Program with Soren Petro today. I was unable to listen to the show, but a friend of mine was able to listen to it and sent me a write up on it. He also posted that write up on bigsoccer. Besides the basics that we already knew, including the total cost of the project, there will be youth fields used for more then just soccer, and the fact that we're still waiting on final approval, there are a few new things we learned today.

The latest update to date number on the size of the stadium is 19,000 according to Cotton with a roof on each side of the stadium, likely similar to Bridgeview and the future RSL stadium. The stadium will be surrounded by retail, 250,00 square feet, along with another 750,000 south of the stadium.

The time frame for construction of the stadium has changed. Construction is now set to begin in late summer early fall, with the stadium being the top priority of the development. It will take 14-16 months to complete development of the stadium, which still puts opening before the 2010 season. Cotton also said that if there are any delays, the Wizards will begin the 2010 season at CAB. I can't wait for construction to begin and to see Hillcrest Road on opening day of the 2010 season.

Returning Home

The Wizards finally return home in MLS play this weekend, when the Columbus Crew come to Kansas City tomorrow. This is the Wizards first home game in league play since a 0-0 draw with Houston on the 12th of April. Tomorrow's game will be the 2nd time the Wizards will play Columbus this season. On the third game of the team's last 6 game road trip, the Wizards lost to Columbus 2-1. Claudio Lopez got the one tally from the penalty spot, and Roger Espinoza got a first half red card (he hasn't played any first team minutes since then). The Crew at the time were one of the hottest teams in MLS (they were 5-1 after beating the Wizards), and since then, the team has cooled off, and has a record of 6-4-1. Their scoring has dried up, they haven't scored a league goal since beating San Jose 3-2 the week after they played KC, so 4 games now. Kansas City, though has been just as inept in front of goal, as during their 6 game road trip they only scored 3 goals.

Kansas City comes into the game on the heals of a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake to end their road trip. Columbus comes in off of a loss on Wednesday in their US Open Cup qualifier 3-2 after extra time to Chicago. So the Crew are on the same amount of rest the Wizards had heading into Salt Lake. The other good news, beside the lack of rest by Columbus, is the fact that Columbus comes in with a major case of the injury bug, with multiple starters missing due to injury. They will also be missing captain, Frankie Hejduk, who is with the US National team for the start of World Cup Qualifying.

As for the Wizards, their injury list is small and only has players that would likely play no role in the game tomorrow. So the Wizards should have their full starting lineup out there.
Leathers - Conrad - Hohlbein - Harrington
Arnaud - Zavagnin - Jewsbury - Marinelli
Sealy - Lopez

PREDICTION - Both teams have had trouble scoring lately, and both teams have been conceding goals, so which one is going to continue? I'd love to see the Wizards come home, have a break out game, and absolutely stomp Columbus, but I don't see that happening. I expect another low scoring game, with the odd goal deciding it. Columbus' form has been just as low as KC lately so I'll give the edge to KC.

KC - 1 (Lopez)
Cbus - 0

Thursday, June 12, 2008

US Open Cup Third Round

The first round of the US Open Cup just completed, and with the second round coming up, the Wizards now have an idea of who they could play in the third round when they enter the competition. US Soccer has put out the draw for the third round, and the Wizards will play one of three teams. First off, the Wizards need to wait on the last first round game between NY Pancyprian Freedoms of the USASA and Real Maryland of USL2. The winner of that match goes on to play the Carolina Railhawks of USL1. That match, on June 24th will decide who plays the Wizards.

Should the higher seeded Railhawks win, the Wizards will travel to Cary, NC July 1 to take on the Railhawks. If the winner of NY Pancyprian Freedoms and Real Maryland advance, the Wizards will host the game at Blue Valley West High School the same date.

After looking at the map of the location of Blue Valley West, it struck me as funny that the potential site of the game is across the street from the land that could have become the Wizards stadium had the ballot issue back in November of 2006 passed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Soccer Equipment Drive

The Cauldron has done some work this season to start a reaching out to the community. One of the things the section is doing, is collecting new and gently used soccer equipment for the Don Bosco Center in Kansas City. This will help to promote youth soccer in the area. The big date to get all of this in, is this coming Saturday, June 14th. Just inside Gate C, between the bleachers and the berm, there will be a stand collecting the equipment. As you drop off your items, you will also get a Cauldron/Passback t-shirt as a thank (as supplies last).

If you have any questions about the drive, please contact the Community Outreach contact of the Cauldron leadership, Kathie Robison,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Cleats

Since my knee is almost back to 100% I'm getting back to playing soccer. Since I'm getting back, I needed to get myself a new pair of soccer cleats. Through, I got a pair of Nike Mercurial Talaria IV FG Soccer shoes in sports red. Today they arrived in the mail and thought I'd give my first impression of the cleats. I haven't had a pair of Nike cleats in a while, I hadn't liked the old vapors they'd put out as I thought they were too thin and had heard bad things about the shoe from friends and athletes. Since then, I'd stayed away from them. So I was pleased when I first looked at my shoes and saw that they had more padding on the back of the heal then I remember other Nike shoes having.

I decided to give the shoes a quick try out in the yard. Putting them on was a little hard, the synthetic leather is a little tight and took a little work to get them on the first time. I expect that this will get easier as I wear them in more. Once I got them on my feet, though, they felt good and fit extremely well. I got outside and started doing a bit of juggling, the ball felt good coming off my foot, and had that good ball on leather sound that you get when you hit the ball just right. Overall, I've been impressed with the cleats so far and look forward to continuing to use them. I'll give a full review of the cleats once I've had a week or so to work them in and played in more of a game situation in them.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Youth

While the first team played in Salt Lake this past weekend, the Wizards Junior teams competed in the Kansas State Cup competition. Three of the Wizards four teams won the state cup title. The Wizards U-19 team had the easiest path, with only a three team group, the Juniors only had to win one match, which they did easily winning 9-0 over KC Comets Select.

The U-17 team was also the top seed in their age group and they used that seed to ride to the title, winning the championship game 2-1 over KCFC Athletics. The U-16 team was the second seed in their age group and advanced to the finals where they defeated the top seeded KCFC Strikers 5-0 in the championship to take home the title. The one Wizards Juniors that didn't win the title was the U-15 team, who fell in the semifinals to the eventual champions, BVSC Stars Cruz Azul 2-1.

Speaking of Wizards teams, the reserves played today against the KC Brass. The reserves came away with a 5-1 win over the PDL team. Ivan Trujillo got a brace, and Eloy Colombano, Sasha Victorine, and Michael Kraus got the other goals for the Wizards. For the Brass, Lucas Rodriguez, got their goal. Read the full write up on Hillcrest Road that I linked.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Set of Goose Eggs

The Wizards ended their long 6 game road trip with a 0-0 draw in Salt Lake. Both teams had some chances the Wizards best came in the first half, when Davy Arnaud rattled the woodwork from about 22 yards out. Salt Lake was denied by some more good goalkeeping by Kevin Hartman. Including one from point blank against Kenny Deuchar off of a corner. Overall, the better opportunities were created by Salt Lake, as they tested Hartman again and again. Even with the point, though, the Wizards find themselves at the foot of the Eastern Conference after DC's win in Chicago last night.

The Wizards finish the road trip with a 1-3-2 record, scoring only 4 goals in those 6 matches while allowing 8 goals. a disappointing run of games overall. I'll have a full write up on the road trip this coming week.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kevin Hartman - Who else could it be tonight? He once again saves the Wizards and has kept this team from being at the foot of the league table, instead of just at the foot of the East. It's scary how bad this team would be right now if Hartman had not saved this team multiple times this season.

Honorable Mention - Jimmy Conrad

Friday, June 06, 2008

End of the Road

The Wizards end their long 6 game road trip tomorrow in Salt Lake as they take on Real Salt Lake. Last year the Wizards allowed an early goal and ended up losing 3-1, as well as losing their US Open Cup qualifier there 2-1 after extra time. Salt Lake comes in off of a 3-1 win over San Jose. KC meanwhile had last week off from MLS action, but played CSD Municipal in the New Mexico Cup and then took on Colorado in their Open Cup qualifier on Wednesday. How will the fact that many of the Wizards starters went 120 minutes against Colorado affect them Saturday in altitude in Salt Lake? Not to mention the horrible turf there. Midfielder Carlos Marinelli doubtful with a groin strain and with the turf I wouldn't expect him to even make the trip.
Leathers - Wahl - Conrad - Harrington
Arnaud - Zavagnin - Jewsbury - Victorine
Lopez - Sealy

PREDICTION The Wizards really need points from this game, the East is too good this year to continue to drop points against non-conference teams. With the amount of players that played 120 minutes on Wednesday though, I would guess there will be a lot of tired legs for the Wizards.

KC - 1 (Lopez)
RSL - 1 (Findley)

Wizards vs Atlas Official

Recently I posted an entry with a link to ticketmaster that advertised the Wizards vs Atlas. A couple days later, the link was taken down. Now we have official word from the team that the game will be taking place July 11, the day after the Wizards play New York in league play. I've been harping on this for a while now that the Wizards needed to get a home friendly, and it's finally come true, for the first time since 1997, KC will play a home friendly. For season ticket holders the game will be "Special Game B" for people that aren't season ticket holders, tickets can be bought at ticketmaster.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

May Player of the Month

We are over 2 months into the MLS season and it's time to hand out the Down the Byline Player of the Month award for May. The Wizards went 0-2-1 in May, losing 2-1 in Columbus, drawing 1-1 in New York, and losing 3-1 in LA.

As for the month of May, I have to give the award to Claudio Lopez. Throughout the month of May he's been the Wizards best player on the field, creating numerous opportunities while playing all 270 minutes of the Wizards 3 games. In those 3 games he scored 2 goals.

Other then Lopez, there really aren't many other options, the Wizards other goalscorer was Jimmy Conrad, but the defense allowed 6 goals in 3 games. Kevin Hartman had 16 saves, but again the 6 goals stands out. That's why Lopez is receiving the DTB Player of the Month for May.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wizards Into Open Cup Proper

Photo courtesy of Alan Hainkel

The Wizards got a 2-2 draw with Colorado tonight in their Open Cup qualifier, and won the game 5-3 on PKs. Due to travel, I was unable to attend the game, but you can read a play-by-play of the game over on Hillcrest Road, as well as first hand accounts of people over on bigsoccer once they get back from the game. KC grabbed the lead in the 20th minute thanks to an individual effort from Ryan Pore. Sixteen minutes later, Colorado equalized through Herculez Gomez to tie the game at one, which is where it stayed into the half. In the 57th minute, Colorado was able to grab the lead from a header by Jacob Peterson.

As the minutes ticked by, it looked like KC would get knocked out in the qualifying stage yet again for the Open Cup. In the 86th minute though, a run by Claudio Lopez allowed him to get a shot off that Rapids keeper, Preston Burpo could only parry into the path of Ivan Trujillo who turned it in to make it 2-2. Only 5 minutes after the tying goal, KC found themselves down a man, as Davy Arnaud picked up a second yellow (he will miss the team's 3rd round match in the Open Cup). Extra time had it's chances, but no one converted, and onto PKs it went.

Jack Jewsbury, Lopez, and Trujillo, all made theirs with replies from Colorado. KC's 4 PK taker, Jimmy Conrad also converted his. His counter part for the Rapids Facundo Erpen hit his PK against the bar. This gave the Wizards 5th taker, Kurt Morsink the chance to win it. He did, putting his PK off the hands of Burpo and into the net. KC will now wait to find out their opponent in the third round, which is set to start July 1.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - ??? - Having not seen the match, I can not in good conscience make a choice for this award. So I'm asking people who did go to the game, who was man of the match for the Wizards? Lopez? Trujillo for his tying goal? Someone else? Let me know.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wizards Looking to get in US Open Cup

Since I'm out of town tomorrow so I will be posting my preview for Wednesday's US Open Cup qualifier against the Colorado Rapids. The winner of the match will go into the US Open Cup proper. Colorado got to this point by beating the LA Galaxy last week 1-0. The Wizards got to this point by being the 8th seed in the playoffs last year. Colorado defeated FC Dallas yesterday 2-1 in Colorado. Kansas City on the other hand, played CSD Municipal in the New Mexico Cup Saturday night.

With Kevin Hartman staying home this past weekend, I'd expect him to get the start in net. The rest of the Wizards lineup I expect to be a starter heavy lineup similar to our line up to start the game against Municipal.
Leathers - Conrad - Wahl - Harrington
Arnaud - Zavagnin - Jewsbury - Marinelli
Lopez - Trujillo
Don't quote me on that lineup though.

KC comes in with one more day of rest, as well as the fact that the starters only played 45 minutes on Saturday. The Wizards should be fresher and able to take down the Rapids. That said, the Wizards also have a game in Salt Lake on Saturday, so Onalfo could be looking towards that and ending their 4 game winless streak.

KC - 2 (Marinelli, Trujillo)
CO - 1 (McManus)

Kicks 4 Kenya

I just love stuff like this. Hillcrest Road today had an interview with TJ Widbin, founder of Kicks4Kenya. Widbin has spent time bringing the beautiful game to youth in Kenya, but it looks like he may not be able to make the trip this year due to lack of funds. The Wizards are trying to help Widbin out by accepting donations in his name. The team will accept modest donations in Widbin's name to help get him to Kenya this year. So that's one way for people to help expand the beautiful game to people in another country.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

More From New Mexico

Here's some more stuff from the New Mexico Cup.

Attendance was announced as 2,642 for the game tonight, according to this article about Lance Watson from the Albuquerque Journal, the only write up in the local press so far on how the game went. That's a far cry from what organizers were apparently expecting according to a video on local news station, KRQE. According to the video, organizers were expecting 10,000 for the game last night against CSD Municipal. Here is the article from Municipal's website.

Here are some notes on the game from Jeff, who runs the UNM Lobo Soccer blog.

Trujillo was the man of the match with his two very nice goals but he was absent most of the rest of the time.

My comment at the half was that KC was bigger, faster, stronger and better organized. Clearly the better team.

Kronberg actually had a few solid saves to keep a clean sheet. Leathers was not marking wide so Muni was able to get in behind him a few times.

Lance Watson is still the talk of the town drawing this article in the local rag -

Marinelli was good and bad with at least 5 turnovers in a 10 minute stretch in the first half.

Thought Arnaud was very good as was Jewsbury and Conrad.

In the 58th minute the Muni player actually threw a punch while on the ground in fracas with Trujillo. Trujillo sustained the foul, was punched and then earned a yellow as did the Muni player. Poor decision by the ref there but I think he officiated well all night.

I'd like to thank Jeff for taking the time to take notes on the game and send them to me.