Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wizards Advance

It took more than it probably should have, but the KC Wizards advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup after their penalty kick win over the Minnesota Thunder last night. Coach Onalfo made 9 changes to the lineup that started on Sunday against Santos Laguna. The only hold overs were Lance Watson and Roger Espinoza. The rest of the lineup was made up of the Swope Park Rangers. KC came out the more dominate team in the early going, as they pressured Minnesota in their own end. This would become a theme all night, as KC employed a high pressure defense, that many times led to easy turn overs by the Thunder players. In the 17th minute, the Wizards finally capitalized on all their good possession. Roger Espinoza sent a low shot in to the back post that was going wide, but Michael Kraus ran onto the shot and redirected it into the net to give the Wizards the early lead. Only 2 minutes later, KC had the chance to double the lead, as a KC player was fouled in the box, giving Abe Thompson the chance to score his 7th career Open Cup goal. Thompson made no mistake as he doubled the Wizards lead.

Minnesota started to push the game a bit more after that point and tested Boris Pardo a few times in the Wizards net. It was KC, though, who should have made it 3, as Michael Harrington just missed the post on a sliding shot. Unfortunately, late in the first half, KC gave up a free kick out on the left. When it was played into the box, the referee called a foul on one of the Wizards players, giving Minnesota a penalty kick. Ricardo Sanchez put the PK away giving the Thunder some light before the half time break.

In the second half, the Wizards continued to push the game and had a few chances to go up another goal, but could not convert. Late in the second half, Rauwshan McKenzie made a clumsy tackle in the box, leading to another Thunder PK that Sanchez again put away. Coach Onalfo introduced Claudio Lopez late to try and give the Wizards a push, but they were unable to find net before heading to extra time.

KC controled the first period of extra time, but yet again couldn't get off any dangerous opportunities. Finally in stoppage time of the first extra period, a Lopez was flicked on by Josh Wolff to the back post, where McKenzie and 2 other Wizards converged on the ball. It was McKenzie who rose highest though and nodded the ball home to give KC the lead. In the second extra period, the Thunder pushed the game again, but the Wizards defense was holding firm. Unfortunately it didn't hold out. Thunder forward, Melvin Tarley had been walking the offside line and finally beat the trap in the 115th minute. Tarley calmly chippped Pardo and made it 3-3. Wolff had a chance to win it very late on a similar attempt, but his attempt went wide of the net. It was onto penalty kicks.

The Wizards sent their top players to the shootout, first sending Lopez, who calmly put the ball up the middle. Minnesota's Jon Greenfield responded, beating Pardo to his right. Wolff was second and slotted his ball into the corner out of Nic Platter's reach. Sanchez stepped up and buried his 3rd PK of the game to tie it at 2-2. Thompson was the Wizards 3rd shooter and powered his shot just under the bar to make it 3-2. Thunder captain Jeremiah Bass was up next. He shot to Pardo's right, but the shot was at a perfect diving height for Pardo and he knocked the shot away. Herculez Gomez was the Wizards fourth shooter, and he sent Platter the wrong way giving KC a 4-2 lead. Dale Weiler was the Thunder's fourth shooter. Weiler needed to score to keep the Thunder alive, but Pardo again guessed right and knocked the ball away giving KC the win. They'll play the winner of tonight's Portland-Seattle game.

Overall, not a great performance by the reserves, but they got the result. Good work on the high pressure defense, but the Wizards too made multiple silly mistakes. Against the last place team in USL-1, the Wizards should have been able to take this game in regulation.

Wizards Man of the Match - Boris Pardo - 2 PK saves in the shoot out is enough to earn you the man of the match honors. Although special mention needs to go to Espinoza, who is reporting late to the Honduran team so he could play in the game, and played the full 120 minutes after playing 90 minutes on Sunday.

Player Ratings - Pardo 6, Watson 5, Leathers 5, McKenzie 5, Marquess 4, Harrington 5, Morsink 5, Zusi 4, Espinoza 6, Thompson 5, Kraus 4. Subs Gomez 4, Lopez 5, Wolff 5


szazzy said...

Exciting game, but it shouldn't have been. We were miles ahead of this team.

At first when you watch Rod Dyachenko, you're like - "How is this guy out of MLS?" Then about 5 minutes later when he dribbles into 3 people or loses the ball in his own end with no real pressure, you're like - "oh yeah."

Do a McKenzie interview even if he doesn't win the poll. We've never really heard from the guy.

Reepicheep said...

Espinosa did well (there, I said it).

Never mind it was a USL team he played against.