Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday After Stats

Not many stats this week.

DavyArnaud's goal was his 28th in league play, ties him with Scott Sealy, Josh Wolff, and Digital Takawira for 4th place on that list.

Last night was Jack Jewsbury's 148th appearance in all competitions, breaking the tie he had with Diego Gutierrez for 11th.

Last night was Kurt Morsink's 40th MLS game.

Michael Harrington kept his streak of playing in every competitive game this season alive.

Kevin Hartman and Jimmy Conrad have both played every league minute this season.

Games are 90 Minutes

At times this season, it's seemed like the Wizards don't realize the game if 90 minutes long. They played about 55 minutes against Colorado earlier this season before playing the last 10 to get the win in that game. They played 70 minutes against Chivas USA before sitting back and letting Chivas almost get a point. Last night in San Jose, the Wizards seemed to only play for about 20 minutes to start the second half. In the first half last night, the Earthquakes brought the game to the Wizards. If not for Kevin Hartman being quick off his line, the Wizards could have been down 1-0 inside the first 30 seconds of the game. The 'Quakes continued to pressure, and only some good goalkeeping from Hartman kept Ronnie O'Brien out. Late in the first half, the 'Quakes got the goal they deserved, as O'Brien lofted a ball into the back post towards Arturo Alvarez and another Earthquake. With only one Wizard covering the two of them, Alvarez was able to get to the ball first and head it past Hartman.

To start the second half, Coach Onalfo brought on Carlos Marinelli and the extra offense seemed to help the Wizards as they started the half. The Wizards were the ones bringing the game to the 'Quakes, and in the 64th minute got a deserved equalizer, as Michael Harrington crossed to Davy Arnaud who beat Joe Cannon through his 5 hole to tie the game at 1-1. After the goal, though, the Wizards seemed to quit playing. The 'Quakes were the ones with all the possession and all the dangerous chances, the Wizards were on their back foot. The goal that was coming, finally came in the 83rd minute, as Ryan Johnson headed a Francisco Lima cross back across goal into the path of Darren Huckerby, who was in an offside position, and he headed it past Hartman to give San Jose the lead. Thanks to a poster on bigsoccer, we have this picture of the time when the ball left Johnson's head.

Even with that, the Wizards still had a chance to tie very late, as a late cross got all the way through the San Jose box to an unmarked Chance Myers. Myers, though, scuffed the shot horribly, and former Wizard Nick Garcia cleared it off the line.

Wizards Man of the Match - Davy Arnaud - Arnaud got the goal and gave his typical effort last night. Having been marked up against Nick Garcia was no easy task, but Arnaud was able to create a couple dangerous chances that just weren't finished.

Honorable Mention - Kevin Hartman

Friday, August 29, 2008

Struggling Wizards Head to San Jose

The Wizards will try to get only their second away win of the season when they go to take on San Jose this weekend. Not since the 1-0 win against Chicago the first away game of the season have the Wizards taken all 3 points on the road. Since then the Wizards are 0-5-5 on the road getting only 5 of the 30 points available for them.

Some players on San Jose will have a chip on their shoulder as well, former Wizards Nick Garcia and Scott Sealy are both now with the Earthquakes. Overall, the Earthquakes are playing miles better then last years expansion team, Toronto. The Earthquakes are pushing hard for a playoff spot in their first season and have made some good additions during the season to make them even more competitive.

Meanwhile, the Wizards haven't done a whole lot of adding to their roster, the only addition during the season has been Josh Wolff, returning from Germany. From the injury report, it looks like the Wizards could be without Sasha Victorine. If so, I think we're likely to see the return of Kurt Morsink to the starting line up.
Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Marquess
Harrington - Zavagnin - Morsink - Lopez
Arnaud - Wolff

PREDICTION - If the Wizards want to make the playoffs, they need to get points out of this game. Whether it's a draw or a win, the Wizards need the points. The Wizards road record has already been touched on, so I'm not overly optimistic about a win tomorrow. But I have hope we can pull out a draw.

KC - 1 (Wolff)
SJ - 1 (Sealy)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Eyes Towards Britain

MLS has seen two players make high profile moves to the British Isles in the current transfer window. Setanta Sports did a write up on 11 other players around MLS that, according to them, could make it over in the British. Wizards defender/midfielder, Michael Harrington made the list.

Here is what Setanta said about Harrington: This zippy full-back is the kind of player that every manager would want in their squad. He is quick, strong, skillful, intelligent, and never gives up. After being snapped up by the Wizards in the draft system, he secured a first-team place straight away and a bright future awaits him.

Describes Harrington pretty well, although I don't think he is quite ready to make the jump across the pond yet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MISL Reunion Game

The Wizards have put out an official release about the upcoming MISL reunion game before the Wizards take on the LA Galaxy. The match will take place at the KC SoccerDome the Saturday the 13th at noon. After that, you can head over to Arrowhead and get autographs from the former KC Attack/Comets players as well as the former players from the St. Louis Steamers/Ambush. I'm not sure if I'll be attending the game or not, as I'll likely be helping get the Wings of a Sparrow tailgate get set up for what will be a big tailgate for the 4 pm game.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This Week's Interview Poll

Thad, over at The Back Post, and myself are continuing our weekly interview polls.

We pick a few players from the last game and put up a poll for you to decide on who should be interviewed (if possible). Vote either on this site, or over at The Back Post. In addition to that, feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments section of one of the two blogs. Please be considerate with the questions that you ask.

This week you have the choice of:

Jimmy Conrad - Team leading goalscorer, and saved the game for the Wizards Saturday night with his 5th goal of the season.

Kevin Hartman - Has been playing an MVP quality season in net, and just hit the 1100 save mark, only the second goalkeeper to do that.

Josh Wolff - The former Wizard returns from Germany, and has a goal and assist since returning.

Sunday After Stats

Here are a few of the stats from after last nights 1-1 draw against FC Dallas.

Jack Jewsbury tied Diego Gutierrez for 11th on the all time games played list with 147 games played.

Jewsbury's assist last night gives him 5 on the season good enough for the team lead.

Last night was Michael Harrington's 50th MLS game.

Jimmy Conrad's goal last night was his 5th in league play, which is a new career high for Conrad (he had 4 in 2003). He also leads the team in goals.

Conrad's goal, his 14th career MLS goal with the Wizards moves him into 11th place on that list.

Las night was Conrad's 145th MLS match with the Wizards, moving him ahead of Matt McKeon for 7th place on that list.

Davy Arnaud finished tonight with 14,216 minutes in all competitions, which moves him past Tony Meola (14,205), and Mo Johnston (14,171) into 7th on the all time list.

Kevin Hartman's first save last night was his 1100th in MLS play, he's the second keeper to pass 1100 saves in league history (Tony Meola).

Hartman has now played in 26,325 minutes, good for second in MLS history.

Reserves Top UMKC

The Wizards reserve players topped UMKC easily this morning out at the Swope Park training center, 8-1. The game was as close as it was, as the reserves dominated the performance for long stretches of the game. Here's how the reserves started out:
Myers - McMahen - Wahl - Watson
Marinelli - Souter - Morsink - Espinoza
Pore - Trujillo

The scoring started early, as in the 9th minute, Kevin Souter overlapped Carlos Marinelli, who backhealed the ball as he went by. Souter then crossed the ball where Ivan Trujillo met it with his head and powered it past the Kangaroos keeper. The reserves continued to dominate, and Marinelli put one shot off the cross bar. The second goal came soon after, though, in the 17th as Trujillo settled the ball in the box and laid it off to Marinelli as he ran past. Marinelli then slotted the ball to the far post. Only 3 minutes later, it was 3-0, again from Trujillo, as Ryan Pore dribbled along the end line, getting the keeper to commit before slotting the ball to Trujillo who had an empty net to finish into.

Ten minutes later, in the 30th, the Wizards made it 4, through Roger Espinoza, off of a cross from Chance Myers that Espinoza finished with his head. In the 40th, it became 5-0 as Pore again crossed the ball, where Lance Watson dummied it, leaving it for Trujillo, who finished it to finish off his hattrick. Before the half time whistle, the Wizards made it 6-0, as in the 43rd minute, Pore scored on a breakaway.

Half time saw the Wizards make 3 changes, as Marinelli, Ryan McMahen, and Watson came off for Rauwshan McKenzie, Jonathan Leathers, and Nelson Pizarro. The changes led to some confusion in the back, and UMKC pulled a goal back in the 48th off a cross. Five minutes later, in the 53rd, the Wizards restored their 6 goal lead, as Kurt Morsink hit a blast from about 25 yards out into the top corner. In the 62nd minute, the Wizards made their last change, as Michael Kraus came on for Pore. The Wizards finished out their scoring in the 80th minute, when Pizarro hit another long shot from about 25 yards out that beat the 'Roos keeper. Overall, it was a dominating performance, it was not hard to tell which team was the home team.

Revenge on Dallas

Back on July 4th, the Wizards looked to be getting a big win against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park, when in second half stoppage time, Abe Thompson scored to give both teams a point from the game. Fast forward to Saturday night, when the Wizards were trailing 1-0 to Dallas, and looking like Dallas was going to steal all 3 points from the Wizards. Instead, Wizards' captain, Jimmy Conrad, playing up front as a forward got his foot on a cross from Josh Wolff and directed it into the net to give the Wizards an undeserved share of the points with Dallas.

Dallas had grabbed the lead early, when in the 7th minute, Andre Rocha took a shot from very long range and caught Kevin Hartman napping a bit. Over the course of the game, KC never really seemed to truely threaten to get a goal back, they'd have plenty of attacks in Dallas' end of the field, but they never really seemed dangerous when in front of goal. Until the Wizards finally scored, they're best chance came in the second half, when a deep ball into the box was met by Roger Espinoza, who couldn't put his header on frame. As the minutes ticked by, and Dario Sala wasted more and more time for Dallas, I was all ready to write a scathing entry today and our anemic offense (which honestly I could still do), especially when the Wizards were a man up for 30 minutes of the game. Instead, Conrad saves the Wizards blushes again, and keeps those slim playoff hopes still alive.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Conrad - Conrad saves the point for the Wizards tonight, and while 3 would have been a whole lot better, getting a point after the way we played can't be terrible.

Honorable Mention - Kevin Hartman

Friday, August 22, 2008

Two-Thirds Done

The Wizards are two-thirds of the way through this MLS season. And with only 10 games left, the Wizards currently find themselves outside the playoff picture right now. Bob Rusert had a column out yesterday talking with Onalfo about the last third of the season and what Onalfo expects. In it, Onalfo mentions that he wants to make home a fortress the rest of the season, as well as picking up 6 points from the teams final 4 away games. He feels that 16 points will be enough to get the Wizards into the playoffs this season. That'd give the team a total of 41 points. Only twice in MLS history has a team gotten 41 or more points in a season and failed to make the playoffs (Miami in 2000 and KC in 2005). Not only am I skeptical of getting 16 points over the final 10 games (we have 12 and 13 over each of the first two thirds of the season, but I'm also skeptical that 41 will be enough to get the team into the playoffs with how close the teams are at this time.

But let's take a look at the final 10 games of the season to see if in my opinion I see KC picking up those 16 points. They do have an advantage with 6 of the final 10 being at home, though.

Dallas - 1 point - Dallas will be tired from the long road trip, but they're got enough talent they'll pull out the draw.

@ San Jose - 0 points - San Jose's mid-season changes have paid off for them greatly. They're a decent team right now, and will take all 3 off the Wizards at home.

@ Houston - 1 point - World Cup qualifier in Cuba is the day before, and will see Brian Ching likely gone, as well as Pat Onstad and Dwayne DeRosario for Canada. Hopefully the Wizards take advantage of the loss of those players and win a point on the road.

LA - 3 points - The Wizards need this game against an LA team planning for next year according to Bruce Arena. Not taking all 3 means an end to the season most likely.

Toronto - 3 points - Toronto is a historically poor team on the road, so the Wizards should be able to all 3 off TFC.

@ Chivas USA - 0-1 points - Depending on health, the Wizards could get out of LA with at least a point against the Goats.

Chicago - 1 point - I think we can take the season series, but our offense is too weak and their defense is too strong in my opinion for us to get all 3.

New England - 1 point - A revenge factor for early in the season and a fight for the playoffs should be motivating, but if New England doesn't have it wrapped up, it'll be a big fight.

San Jose - 3 points - San Jose is still an expansion side and playing on the road will be trouble for them. The last home game of the season KC should win this one.

@ New England - 0-1 points - If NE has anything to play for, it'll be a tough one, if they're resting for the playoffs, then the Wizards may have a chance to take all 3.

I see us right now getting about 15 points, and at most 17 points. They certainly have a chance to make it into the playoffs, but they'll need to fight and surprise a few teams to get in.

Big D coming to Town

There are 10 games left in the Wizards season (more on that later tonight). Tomorrow night the Wizards will be at home to take on FC Dallas. Neither team has any suspension issues heading into this game, but there are some injury concerns. Duilio Davino is out for FC Dallas, and apparently Marcelo Saragosa did not travel to KC with the team. KC could be without Michael Harrington who is listed as questionable for this game. According to Curt Onalfo in the weekly press conference, Harrington and Davy Arnaud are going to be game time decisions.

I'm going to go under the assumption that both Harrington and Arnaud are going to be able to play. Hopefully both are ready to go, or else we could see a thrown together line up.
Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Marquess
Harrington - Morsink - Victorine - Lopez
Arnaud - Wolff

PREDICTION - It's hard to see the Wizards pulling 3 points out of this after their play lately. They haven't been able to put together a full 90 minute game in a long time, and to beat Kenny Cooper and FC Dallas, they're going to need it. The good news, is that Dallas is finishing up a 3 game road trip, so hopefully Dallas will have some tired legs tomorrow.

KC - 1 (Lopez)
FCD - 1 (Cooper)

Costs Rising (Stadium Problems?)

An article has come out today in the KC Business Journal talking about the redevelopment of the 3 Trails area, that includes the construction of the Wizards soccer specific stadium. Unfortunately, it's not good news. Due to the increase in construction costs recently, Lane4, OnGoal, and the other redevelopers are having to up their request for state tax credits from $10 million to $30 million. It was originally thought that the only thing left was the approval of the Department of Economic Development (DED) to release the funding. Now that shows not to be the case, as the director of that department, Gregory Steinhoff is also on the Missouri Development Finance Board, meaning that the DED won't approve their end until this is sorted out. The board will meet on the 16th of September.

While there is confidence from the lawyer representing the developers that this will pass, this is still not a good sign in today's economy, when you have to ask for more money. It's also not a good sign for the entire area as a whole, because as Robb Heineman says in the article, a long delay or denial of the funds could kill the project, leaving the area again to remain undeveloped. No development there will just continue to send the area even further down than it is already going. My understanding of the mall itself, is that it is basically beyond repair at this point. Bobcat's have been inside tearing out anything and everything that people can tear out. All the copper is basically gone, the aluminum escalator stairs are basically all gone as well. From news reports, there are people living in the mall, there's no way even Richard Tolbert could say the mall could be brought back successfully now.

Should the board not approve the funding, the Wizards will go back to searching for a site, likely on the Kansas side, in the suburbs (Olathe possibly).

And it didn't take long for the Wizards to have a report out in response to the article in the Business Journal. Bob Rusert from MLSnet has an article up today that includes quotes from Greg Cotton in regards to the stadium situation, Cotton, general counsel for the Wizards says the "snag" isn't as big as the report makes it seem to be. The article certainly came out in a timely manor, as the tone of the article helps to calm some people who were worried after reading the KC Business Journal article.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Auctions for the Galaxy Game

The Wizards are auctioning off a lot of different pre-game things for the upcoming game against the LA Galaxy. You can bid to be the pre-game entertainment, the national anthem singer, pick the charity to be the Kicks for Kids Donation, and the Color Guard Donation. Auctioning anything they can with the pregame has gotten the Wizards noticed by Freakonomics, a blog with the New York Times (thanks to Peter for sending this my way).

Local Media Picks Up on Stadium Delay

NBC Action News here in KC has picked up on the continued delays in the process to get Bannister Mall torn down so that the Wizards stadium and a new shopping area can go in. As I've stated previously, the project is only needing one final approval before construction on the site can begin. Once that is done, then the construction on the stadium can actually begin. The article says that Lane4 will need to provide more detailed information about the project. So we'll see how the meeting on the 30th goes, but some people are already very frustrated that a project that many fans thought would start in June has now been pushed back to starting sometime this fall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zavagnin Interview

Thad has posted the second player interview, this time with Kerry Zavagnin. Some good answers from Zavagnin this time from what you guys asked and some that we had as well.

Vermes turns down Galaxy

Wizards technical director, Peter Vermes will remain with the Wizards. Bob Luder is reporting that Vermes had been offered the job of GM with the LA Galaxy, following the firing of Alexi Lalas. Vermes turned the position down. Honestly I can't blame him for it. The situation in LA is a circus and almost a no win situation for the man that takes the GM position. While in KC, Vermes likely has more time to work with than he would have if he was in LA. That's not to say that KC doesn't expect to win now, but OnGoal and their current strategy with the team seems to allow Vermes more time to work in his position.

In LA he would have been under pressure from AEG from the get go to help Bruce Arena put a winning team on the field immediately. All while handicapped a bit with the salaries of Beckham and Donovan. It just doesn't seem like the best position for him to walk into, and it's not overly surprising he turned it down.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reserves Top Creighton

Not much to say about this one, Hillcrest Road has a small write up, including the starting lineup for the reserves. Creighton's website has a little bit more, including the time of the Wizards lone goal, in the 86th minute by Ivan Trujillo from Creighton alum, Michael Kraus. Unfortunately that's about all the info you can get from the two write ups on the game.

Interview Poll Number 2

The Back Post and myself are getting ready for the second interview with a player. Like last time, you, the fan get to vote on who you think we should interview from the choices we have listed. You can vote both here and on The Back Post, so get in your vote for who you think should be interviewed. Here are your options this week:

Michael Harrington - The Wizards goalscorer in Colorado this past weekend.

Kerry Zavagnin - Set the all time league starts record for the Wizards and passed 25,000 career competitive minutes with the Wizards.

Other - Someone else, if you want someone else, write it in in the comments to this post.

Remember to put questions into the comments section as well.

Sunday (Now Monday) After Stats

Ok, wanted to get these out today before I went to bed after getting back from Colorado, here are a few stats after this weekends game.

Last night's game was Kevin Hartman's 50th game in league play with the Wizards. Hartman has played in every minute of every league game since coming to the Wizards for 4500 minutes.

Jimmy Conrad played in his 144th MLS match with KC, tying him with Matt McKeon for 7th on that list.

Michael Harrington is the only player to play in all 23 of the Wizards competitive games this season.

Jack Jewsbury hit the 9500 minute mark in all competitive games.

Kerry Zavagnin hit another milestone this week. Along with breaking his tie with Nick Garcia for most league games started (225), Zavagnin becomes the first Wizards player to go over 25,000 minutes in all competitions.

Here are some other stats from the Wizards release on the game.

Hartman is only 37 saves behind Tony Meola's saves record of 1136. His next save will be Hartman's 1100th.

Hartman has also played 26,235 minutes over his MLS career, only 7 behind Chris Henderson for 2nd on the all time list.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Road is Not Our Friend

The Wizards continue to have their trouble on the road as they put in a lackluster effort and fell in Colorado 2-1. Overall, the performance was another poor one, as a struggling Colorado side dominated the Wizards for long stretches of the game.

Colorado were pressuring from the beginning and were able to get the opening goal through Conor Casey. After the goal, the Wizards started to play a little better, as Sasha Victorine had the Wizards best chances, in the end a rebound from one of his shots fell to Michael Harrington who put the ball away to even the score and take the Wizards into half time tied 1-1.

The Wizards didn't come out to play to start the second half, and Colorado made them pay as Casey got his second goal of the game muscling Jimmy Conrad off the ball and beating Kevin Hartman. Throughout the rest of the second half, the Wizards had trouble mustering anything on the attacking side of the field. The attack continues to struggle, and San Jose has almost passed them for the lowest scoring team in the league. And while other teams down by the Wizards at the bottom of the table (San Jose, New York, etc) have brought in multiple players to try and improve their team, the Wizards have only brought in Wolff. And with the MLS transfer window closed, they'll have to try someone in the league to fill that final roster spot, if they choose to actually fill it.

The Wizards website has put a good spin on the game, as it's only the Wizards second loss in 9 league games. What they don't tell you, is that of the 27 points available to the Wizards from those games, the Wizards have only picked up 13, less then half.

Wizards Man of the Match - Michael Harrington - I struggled to pick someone for this game, but I'll go with Harrington since he got a goal, but that's about it for the highlights of this game.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stadium Update

A quick stadium update. The Wizards, OnGoal and Lane4 only have 1 hurdle left in getting the funds to begin construction of the Bannister Mall area, that includes building Hillcrest Road for the Wizards. That last hurdle was to petition the release of those funds from the Department of Economic Development. Their next meeting was supposed to be August 19th.

Unfortunately, a poster on bigsoccer posted that the meeting had been canceled. As the poster says, it doesn't mean that the funds for the stadium will not be released. It's likely because a member of the committee had another commitment on that day and could not make the meeting. The next meeting is apparently on September 30th, and the meeting will take place in Kansas City.

It's another minor delay, but all these minor delays are starting to push the demolition of the mall back. Originally construction was to start in June, now we're looking at early October before we can even begin to tear the mall down.

Head for the Rockies

The Wizards head west down I-70 to Denver to take on the Colorado Rapids tomorrow night. The Wizards come in after holding off Chivas USA 3-2 at home last Saturday, while Colorado comes in having lost 1-0 at home against Toronto FC. Colorado's fans' spirits are low with the way that the team has been planning and that Coach Clavijo is still in charge of the team after their poor performance of late. He likely won't be in charge tomorrow, though, as he has left the team to attend to family matters. For this game, the Rapids will also be without Colin Clark, who picked up a red card against Toronto FC.

The Wizards are probably their most healthy since the beginning of the season, with only Jonathan Leathers on the injured list currently. That said, I don't expect Onalfo to deviate from the lineup that he put out to start the game against Chivas (they scored 3 goals, you can't really argue with that).

Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Marquess
Harrington - Victorine - Zavagnin - Lopez
Arnaud - Wolff

PREDICTION - The Wizards haven't won on the road since the beginning of that long 6 game road trip to begin the season. Now, against a disheartened Colorado side would be a good time to double that total. They'll need to be stronger on defense than they were last week against Chivas, especially late. Colorado still has Christian Gomez, who if Zavagnin, Victorine, or Morsink don't watch, will torch us.

KC - 2 (Lopez, Wolff)
CO - 1 (Gomez)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wolff's Salary and Former Wizards Update

Earlier today, Steven Goff with the Washington Post posted some of the salaries for some of the recent additions to MLS. His original post didn't have the salary for the Wizards latest signing, Josh Wolff. In a later post today, he does have Wolff's salary. Wolff's full season salary is $200,000. That is right around where I had expected it to be, as he's a returning US international. Is that too high a price to pay for Wolff, a forward who coming in had scored only 2 goals in a season and a half playing as a right winger in the German second division?

Wolff has shown good since coming to KC, while he only has one goal, he's been able to combine well with Davy Arnaud and Claudio Lopez to help make KC more dangerous.

Some other news, this time about former Wizards. First, last seasons MVP, Eddie Johnson, was named to the preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala. Johnson joins Fulham FC teammate Clint Dempsey, Brian Ching, and Landon Donovan as the 4 forwards on the roster. Still no Kenny Cooper which is still the most puzzling thing about Bradley's roster choices.

In other former Wizards news, former first round draft pick, Matt Taylor has signed with TUS Koblenz on the German Bundesliga 2. Taylor, who was picked up by Chivas USA in the expansion draft had been playing with Hollywood United after being released last year by Chivas, and finishing the season with the Portland Timbers.

Zavagnin Retiring

Rumors that had been swirling all season have finally been proven true, Wizards midfielder, Kerry Zavagnin will retire at the end of the season. Zavagnin, the Wizards all time leader in games and minutes played won an MLS Cup and MLS Supporter's Shield in 2000 along with a US Open Cup title in 2004, when he was also selected to the MLS Best XI team. It's been a great run for Zavagnin, who is a huge fan favorite, and one of the all time great Wizards players. Zavagnin also made 21 appearances for the US Men's National team in his career.

Thad has some audio from today's Wizards press conference where he announced he was retiring.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Arnaud Interview

Wizards midfielder/forward Davy Arnaud was the winner of the poll done by myself and The Back Post as to who should be interviewed. Thad over at the Back Post now has the first part of that interview up for you to listen. A very good interview with the questions you asked in the comments section answered. Once Part 2 of the interview is up, I'll add that to this post. And part 2 is now up, including Davy's response to comments Jimmy Conrad made in his blog.

New Trialist with Wizards

photo courtesy of Thad Bell

The Wizards have a new trialist out at practice this week. His trial started on Sunday, when he played the second half against Rockhurst in the reserve game. He was out at practice today and competed in a 6 on 6 tournament. From his play in the friendly, he's a forward. He is supposedly from African, but I don't know if he's currently under contract to a team or not. If he is currently under contract, the Wizards have until Friday when the secondary MLS transfer window closes. If anyone recognizes him, feel free to leave a comment letting me know who it is.

Overall, in the game against Rockhurst, he played well but not amazing, he set up one of the goals and showed some good moves on the ball.
photo courtesy of Thad Bell

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Wizards Reserve Match

While looking around at other stuff, I found another Wizards reserve match coming up in September. The reserves will be taking on William Jewell in a match on September 29th at Swope Park. The game will take place at 10am.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Interview Poll

With the comments I've made recently about the lack of Wizards coverage by the media, myself, and Thad over at The Back Post are going to be trying to do something about it. The two of us have selected 4 players from the game last night for a potential interview. Vote both here and on The Back Post blog for the player that you would like to see interviewed. You are also getting the chance to ask some of the questions. Leave any questions that you have for the players in the comments section of this blog or the Back Post. Make sure to note whether they are for a specific player or a general question.

Stats on Sunday

I'm starting a new little feature called "Stats on Sunday" (or whatever the day is after the game we play). Anyways, what I'll do, is break down some of the stats from the game. So here are some other stats from last nights game.

- The BIG one first, Kerry Zavagnin became the Wizards all time leader in minutes played in MLS matches, passing Nick Garcia. Zavagnin has now played 20,192 minutes in league play for the Wizards.

- Zavagnin started his 224th league game for the Wizards, tying him with Nick Garcia for the most league games started for the Wizards

- Davy Arnaud got his 150 start in all competitions for the Wizards. He's the 8th Wizard to hit that mark.

- Jimmy Conrad started his 142nd league match, which ties him with Mo Johnston for 5th on that list.

- 5 Wizards (Jimmy Conrad, Kevin Hartman, Claudio Lopez, Jack Jewsbury, and Michael Harrington) have started all 19 league games this season. Two of those players (Conrad and Hartman) have played every minute.

- Arnaud's goal last night was his 35th in all competitions for the Wizards he's 3rd all time on that list. It was also the Wizards 20th of the season.

- Sasha Victorine's goal put him into 11th place with 4 other players on the Wizards league goals list with 13. The goal also tied him with Jose Burciaga for 15th on the all competitions list with 15 goals in MLS play for the Wizards. It was also his 30th career MLS goal.

- Zavagnin's assist was his 20th assist with the Wizards, tying him with Josh Wolff for 6th on the league play list.

- Lopez's goal was his 5th goal in all competitions for the Wizards this year, which leads the team. He also tied Conrad for the MLS lead with 4.

- Both Aaron Hohlbein and Matt Marquess record their first point for the Wizards, both got assists last night.

Reserves Top Rockhurst

The Wizards reserves made it a clean sweep this weekend for the Wizards. One night after the first team beat Chivas USA 3-2, the reserves came out today and beat Rockhurst University 4-0 in a friendly game. The Rockhurst team while having Rockhurst players on it, also had some players from other schools as well. The first half was spent mostly in Rockhurst's end of the field, but the Wizards were unable to get many decent chances. The Wizards did get one goal in the first half, though, as a low cross by Ryan McMahen was met at the back post by an unmarked Roger Espinoza, who calmly put the ball away. The first half was highlighted by some confrontations between Wizards midfielder Kurt Morsink and a defender for Rockhurst. Whenever the two were near each other words were exchanged along with some pushing. Late in the first half, Boris Pardo preserved the shut out with a great save reminiscent of Hartman's first big save last night. This is how the Wizards lined up for the first half.

Myers - Leathers - Wahl - Watson
Pizarro - McMahen - Morsink - Espinoza
Pore - Trujillo

Leathers came out in the first half after a head to head collision with a Rockhurst player left him bloodied. He was replaced by Rauwshan McKenzie. After the half, the Wizards made more changes, both forwards and both central midfielders were pulled off. The forwards were replaced by Michael Kraus, and a trialist/guest player, who was wearing number 28. In for McMahen and Morsink came Carlos Marinelli and Kevin Souter.

The second half saw the Wizards put more of a stamp on the game, and they doubled their lead soon after the restart through Marinelli, who scored with a shot from just outside the box. The third goal didn't come much later, as a quick free kick taken by Myers was then cross into the box, where Kraus met it with a side volley to beat the keeper. Like last night, with a 3-0 lead, the Wizards sat back a bit, and Rockhurst was able to get into the game more, and had a goal called back for offsides. The reserves made it 4, though, as Pizarro got in behind his defender and beat the keeper to the far post. Overall a good performance by the reserves. I thought that the mystery player, number 28 did well, not great, had some decent skill and looked willing to take guys 1-on-1 which is always a good thing. We'll see what comes of it.

Wizards Reserves Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Was a force on the wing today and did well running the attack when it came on his wing. Nice run to finish off his goal as well.

Honorable Mention - Nelson Pizarro, Boris Pardo

Should Have Been Easier

3 points is 3 points, but that came should have been much easier then it was. Up 3-0, the Wizards allowed Chivas USA back into the game, and if not for some stellar keeping by Kevin Hartman, we'd be talking about Chivas coming back to earn a point being down 3-0. Thankfully it didn't, and we're talking about 3 points and the Wizards currently in a playoff spot.

The game was fast paced early, as both teams had chances to score within the first few minutes. The best was to Chivas off a corner, as Jim Curtin's effort was barely tipped over the bar by Hartman. In the 22nd minute, the Wizards grabbed the lead, as Claudio Lopez's cross was met by Sasha Victorine, whose diving header got by Zach Thornton in goal for Victorine's first of the season. The Wizards continued to pressure and had chances to double their lead. That goal, though, didn't come until just before half time, when some great short passing work in midfield led to a long ball over the top (kids this is why your coaches teach you that short-short-long passing stuff) to Davy Arnaud who played a low cross right to Lopez, who easily finished to give the Wizards a 2-0 lead heading into half time.

In the second half, the Wizards continued to pressure and were rewarded again, when Aaron Hohlbein played a ball over the top to Arnaud, who raced onto the ball, touched it over Thornton, and then nodded it into the net with his head/nose/chest to give the Wizards a 3-0 lead. As I mentioned last night, shortly before that, Kerry Zavagnin set the Wizards MLS minutes record, passing Nick Garcia. After that third goal, the Wizards took their foot off the gas and started to relax, and it ended up costing them in the 73rd. A lazy back pass by Jack Jewsbury to Hartman was almost intercepted by Atiba Harris, as Harris made for the ball, he was fouled by Hartman who tried to tackle the ball away, leading to a PK. Former Wizard, Carey Talley stepped up and buried the PK to get Chivas back in the game. Then in the 82nd minute on a corner kick, Chivas (playing without 10 players, and having players on the field I'd honestly never heard of) pulled within one, when Justin Braun met the ball. As mentioned earlier, if not for Hartman late on, the Wizards would have gotten at best a point out of this match instead of the full 3. In the end, though, they were able to get all three.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kevin Hartman - I was ready to give the award for this game to Davy Arnaud, but after Chivas got it back to 3-2, Hartman made some huge saves to keep the lead and secure the win. Big time play from El Gato late on last night.

Honorable Mention - Davy Arnaud, Claudio Lopez

Congrats Kerry

Quick note tonight, I'll be back with a full write up on the game tomorrow. Wanted to say congratulations to Kerry Zavagnin tonight. In the 57th minute, Zavagnin became the Wizards all time leader in MLS minutes played, passing Nick Garcia. Congrats to Kerry on this fantastic achievement.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Here Come the Goats

Tomorrow night we get a rematch of last years first round playoff game between the Wizards and Chivas USA. Like last year, Chivas will be without a few of their first team players. Both Ante Razov and Claudio Suarez are questionable for the game with injuries. Sacha Kljestan will also miss the game for the Goats, as he's in China for the Olympics. Also missing will be Paulo Nagamura and head coach Preki, who are both suspended. Chivas won't be completely depleted, though, as both Alecko Eskandarian and Maykel Galindo both made their returns last week in Chivas' 1-0 loss to Chicago.

The Wizards will be playing with a few lineup changes, as was noted earlier this week. It will be interesting to see if the changes in the lineup will give the Wizards more punch in their offense. Let's hope so, because the Wizards are still the second worst scoring team in the league, averaging less than a goal a game (17 goals in 18 games). From the note earlier this week, here's how it appears the Wizards will set up.
Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Marquess
Harrington - Zavagnin - Victorine - Lopez
Arnaud - Wolff

PREDICTION - Both teams come in off a loss last week, as well as both teams being tied in 9th place on 22 points. A win will put either team into a playoff position, as they'd leap frog LA and move into a tie for 6th with Dallas and DC. While Eskandarian and Galindo may be back, it's unlikely either one is ready to go a full 90. Hopefully the Wizards can exploit the holes in Chivas' lineup and get a much needed win. Right now I'll take a repeat of last year's first leg of the playoff match up.

KC - 1 (Arnaud)
Chivas - 0

Another Reserve Game

Along with the game this Sunday against Rockhurst University, the Wizards reserves have another friendly schedule. This on is on August 18th, again at the Swope Park training complex, against Creighton University. Michael Kraus' alma mater will play the reserves at 10:30 am that day. This will be the 4th or 5th college side the reserves have played this year (SMU, Drake, Rockhurst, Creighton), along with playing the Brass. If I've forgotten any, feel free to comment below.

And thanks to Roush on bigsoccer, we know that they will also be playing UMKC on August 24th at noon.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Game on Sunday

While the first team will be taking on Chivas USA Saturday night, the reserves will be in action on Sunday. Sunday the reserves will be taking on Rockhurst University in a friendly. The action kicks off at 10 am out at Swope Park training complex. I'll be out there, should be a good time.

Line up Shake Up

Thad over at The Back Post has the story. It looks like Onalfo is going to be switching things up this weekend with Chivas coming to town on Saturday. Roger Espinoza, Kurt Morsink, and Ryan Pore are dropped in favor of Josh Wolff, Kerry Zavagnin, and rookie Matt Marquess. So we can expect something like this on Saturday it looks like.

Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Marquess
Harrington - Zavagnin - Victorine - Lopez
Arnaud - Wolff

Onalfo confirmed the lineup during this weeks press conference. It's interesting to see Marquess out there instead of someone like Chance Myers or Jonathan Leathers. Thad mentions that Onalfo touched on this as well, saying that Marquess is a naturally lefty, and that while Myers or Leathers could play there, Marquess was the better option.

Overall this looks to be a good lineup, and I know plenty of people are happy to see Harrington moved back into the midfield, where he played the majority of last season before taking over for Jose Burciaga on the back line.

One final note about this lineup. Should Zavagnin make it to the 57th minute Saturday night, he will pass Nick Garcia for the all time Wizards leader in MLS minutes played. Zavagnin currently sits on 20,102 to Garcia's 20,158. Earlier this season, Zavagnin became the games played leader, and all time competitive minutes leader, topping Garcia both times. So an early congrats to Zavagnin as I can't see him not breaking the record this season.

Monday, August 04, 2008

KC Media Coverage (Editorial)

It seems like it's going to be another slow week for Wizards news. We have the rumors of the potential trade to fill Scott Sealy's roster spot, as well as waiting on the renderings of the Wizards stadium to be released. But nothing of any real substance to touch on. But isn't there news to report on, how serious is Wolff's injury? What's going on with our offense? Where's the attacking offense that Wizards fans were told to anticipate? These are questions that many Wizards fans want answered. Unfortunately, there isn't anyone really in KC willing to ask those questions.

Of all the team's in the league, KC probably has the worst media coverage of any team in the league. To get any current news on their team, Wizards fans have to either rely on Wizards related blogs (like the ones I link in my blog roll), along with the Wizards forum on bigsoccer. The Star, or any of the local TV stations are usually hours, to days behind news involving the Wizards. Meanwhile, almost every other city that has a team (and many that don't) have a writer, or a blog devoted to covering their team and the beautiful game. Whether it's Chicago, Chivas USA/Galaxy, Colorado, Columbus, DC United, Houston, New England, New York, RSL, or Toronto all have full time reporters covering their team and usually have daily entries on their blogs. Of the three teams not listed, FC Dallas has one of the best independent blogs on the net covering their team, 3rd Degree as well as one of the better team blogs. For a full list of professional blogs covering soccer in the US, check out this post.

That leaves expansion San Jose and our very own Wizards. As for why KC is worse then San Jose in covering their team, all you have to do is look at last Thursday's Wizards press conference. Having the day off of work, I attended the press conference, which while certainly not the only way to contact the team, is probably one of the easiest ways to ask questions of coach Onalfo. No one from the KC Star even attended the press conference, and the majority of the questions at the press conference were asked by Bob Rusert, of MLSnet.

Bloggers like myself and the others that are just fans of the team shouldn't have to be the main source for other fans to go to for news about the team. There should be someone, NOT working for the team, that actually feeds information to the fans, gets quotes from players and coaches almost daily, gives injury updates, etc. Someone that will actually ask some hard questions of coach Onalfo and Vermes. While I love what Hillcrest Road has started, in the end, it's going to be towing the company line, as it's a run by the team. Unfortunately it looks like the Star doesn't have any interest in giving the Wizards even a quarter of the coverage they give the Chiefs.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Reserves Salvage Something from Weekend

The reserves were able to get something out of the trip to DC this weekend, as the league leaders took down second place DC United 4-2 this morning to increase their lead on top of the division. Ryan Pore opened the scoring from the penalty spot, after Nelson Pizarro was fouled in the box. Early in the second half, the Wizards doubled their lead, when Kevin Souter, let loose a bomb that curled into the corner. Pore set up goal number three in the 52nd, as he beat a few DC defenders, and squared the ball to Ivan Trujillo who finished. The Wizards finished their scoring when Michael Kraus played the ball centrally to Trujillo, who fed the ball wide left to Lance Watson, who beat a defender before slotting home.

As KC laid back and defended the 4 goal lead, DC was able to get back into the game a bit, scoring two goals. In fact, late in the game, DC had the chance to pull within one from the penalty spot, but DC's shooter slipped and missed over the bar. The reserves are now sitting on 17 points, with a 5-1-2 record.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I'm Sorry...

that was just plain bad tonight. The Wizards facing another undermanned team (as many as 8 starters missing) and lay a complete egg in DC losing 2-0. The first shut out of the season for Zach Wells and DC United. Yet again, the Wizards offense looked anemic, refusing to take shots until it was too late and then putting them wide or straight at the keeper. Honestly it could have been worse, but for Jamie Moreno hitting the post for DC in the first half. Minus the offensive outburst against Columbus, the Wizards have struggled to score during the run of play. Outside of the Columbus game, only 2 of the Wizards goals have come during the run of play since MAY! The offense just isn't doing it. Something needs to be done, and at this point, I'm seriously considering waiving my reservations I had about Carlos Ruiz and Jeff Cunningham if they'll just put the ball in the net. The offense just isn't good enough.

This loss feels so much like the 3-0 loss to Columbus this year, it's not even funny. At least we didn't have to face this one in front of our own eyes like that one. There was no cohesiveness, the midfield was basically bypassed all night, as the defense just played long balls up to Davy Arnaud and Ryan Pore. Speaking of Pore, what's it say about offseason signing Ivan Trujillo, that he can't even start over 4th year forward, and fan whipping boy, Pore? My hope when Wolff was signed was that it would push Pore to the end of the bench, but obviously it hasn't happened.

Wizards Man of the Match - Davy Arnaud - I wanted to give the award to no one tonight, cause honestly, did anyone really earn it? In the end, it's going to Arnaud, who was his old self on the field again tonight, hustling and working for every ball, he can't do it all himself.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Taking on the Evil Empire

Yes, I know this is from last year, but it's still great.

Anyways, the Wizards travel to DC this weekend to take on United. The two teams come in going in entirely different directions. The Wizards are undefeated in their last 6 games (2-0-4). DC on the other hand has lost their last 4 games, all at home. Can the Wizards continue their undefeated streak and send DC to their 5th straight home defeat? Things do look pretty good for KC heading into the game. DC will likely be without 3 starters, as both designated player Marcelo Gallardo and Gonzalo Peralta are both out after having hernia surgery. They will also be without Gonzalo Martinez, who picked up a red card against Houston last Wednesday. With those three out, the Wizards will have a better shot at taking the game.

While Josh Wolff left practice early yesterday, it didn't seem to serious as he left the field, and I'd expect/hope that he starts tomorrow. If not, we'll likely see Ryan Pore starting. As for the lineup, I'd expect something similar to what we've seen the last few games.

Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Harrington
Arnaud - Victorine - Morsink - Espinoza
Lopez - Wolff

PREDICTION - Without 3 starters, United should be ready for the taking. The problem is, I thought that earlier this year when the Wizards took on an undermanned New England side, and we were played off the field. Hopefully KC has learned from that and the Wizards can bring the full 3 points home from DC. And in the process leap frog over them and continue our move up the table.

KC - 2 (Lopez, Arnaud)
DC - 1 (Emilio)

From the KC Star today, it looks like Davy Arnaud will be moving into the striker position, while Claudio Lopez drops into the midfield. So I'd expect the lineup to look more like this:
Jewsbury - Conrad - Hohlbein - Harrington
Victorine - Lopez - Morsink - Espinoza
Arnaud - Wolff
With this lineup, I'd expect Lopez to be able to float all over the field.

Star Looks at Open Roster Spot

A little over a week ago, I wrote about a couple options that the Wizards had inside the league in regards to using their recently acquired allocation money to get another striker. One of those is off the table, as Chad Barrett is now in Toronto for the rights to Brian McBride. That does still leave two of my potential trades on the table.

Today, the Star picked up the story, as Pete Grathoff, talked with both Peter Vermes and Coach Onalfo about the roster spot. From the quotes from Vermes, it appears that the Wizards will indeed be looking within the league to fill their vacant roster spot, through a trade most likely. Gratoff mentions both Carlos Ruiz and Jeff Cunningham, two players that I mentioned as potential trade targets for the Wizards should they choose to make a move within the league. Should they choose to look outside the league, then they'll need to make the move in the next 14 days, as the secondary transfer window for MLS closes on August 15th. The Wizards have another month after that to make a trade within the league.

An Interview with Kurt Morsink

Yesterday I took the day off of work and went out to the Swope Park training facility to watch the Wizards practice and the weekly Wizards press conference. After practice, I got the chance to help The Back Post author, Thad Bell with an interview of Down the Byline Player of the Month for July, Kurt Morsink. Bell now has the 3 parts of the interview up on his blog. You can read part 1 here. And parts 2 and 3 here.