Tuesday, March 31, 2009

KC Star Covers the Stadium

The Wizards and OnGoal are featured today in the Star. The Star covers the Wizards continued work at the old Bannister Mall site to get the mall torn down to make room for the redevelopment. There's not a ton of information that hasn't already been stated here on this blog, but it's still nice to see that the paper of record in KC is giving the Wizards and their stadium construction some coverage. The rest of the article discusses much of what OnGoal has and is doing with the team to not only build the fan base, but grow the sport, including getting new and old sponsors being involved with the team. Overall it's a good article about the development, so make sure give it a read and let them know about it. Something I'd love to see the Star do more of by devoting more time to covering the team better than it has previously.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week 2 Interview Poll

Another week down, and unfortunately another loss. The good news is that Thad and I are back with another interview. Who would you like to see interviewed after this past weekend's game? The obvious choice, Kevin Hartman, is left off the list as Thad and I will try to get an interview with him anyways. So here are your 3 choices this week.

Lance Watson - First start of the season in the center of midfield.
Michael Kraus - First MLS league appearance and his first professional goal.
Herculez Gomez - On his return to Colorado.

Remember to put your questions in the comments section and vote both here and at The Back Post.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday After Stats

Last night, Kevin Hartman tied and then broke Tony Meola's all time saves record in MLS play. Hartman's first save, his 1136th of his career tied Meola's record. Right before half time he saved a shot by Omar Cummings, setting the MLS record. Hartman recorded 4 saves in the game and he now stands at 1139 saves for his career.

Last night was also Hartman's 300th start in an MLS game.

Herculez Gomez made his 100th career MLS appearance.

Michael Kraus' goal was his first professional goal.

With yesterday's loss, the Wizards start 0-2 for the first time since the 1999 season. Only the second time in team history they've started 0-2.

Wizards Fall on the Road

For the first time since the 1999 season, and only the second time in team history, the KC Wizards are 0-2 to start a season. Last night in Colorado, the Wizards fell to the Rapids 2-1. Kansas City was not only missing Roger Espinoza and the 5 players that were expected to be out for last night's game, but Davy Arnaud also did not appear in the game due to the neck stiffness he developed after the Toronto game. In Arnaud's place, was Lance Watson, getting only his second start in 2 years. The first half saw both teams start the game slow, with neither team getting many great chances. As the half went on, Colorado started to take control of the game. Late in the first half, Colorado tested Kevin Hartman twice. Both shots Hartman was able to stop, giving him the MLS record for saves, passing former Wizard Tony Meola. Hartman made 2 more saves in the second half giving him 1139 saves for his career.

The second half saw the offenses get more into the game. Claudio Lopez got played in behind the defense early in the second half and was able to get a good shot off. Unfortunately that shot was right at Matt Pickens in the Rapid's net who easily saved it. Colorado grabbed the lead in the 65th minute after a foul by Jonathan Leathers just outside the box. Terry Cooke, who had just entered into the game struck the free kick into the net, giving Hartman no chance. KC was able to respond back fairly quickly. Leathers played a ball through to Michael Kraus, who had only entered two minutes earlier. Kraus took a few touches and as Pickens came off his Kraus touched the ball over him. The ball hit the under side of the cross bar and fell into the net, tying the game at 1-1.

Kansas City continued to press, but was caught out on the break. Colorado broke out quickly from a Wizards' corner. Colin Clark played in Omar Cummings who raced past the Wizards defense and slotted the ball past Hartman. After the goal, Kansas City pushed to try to tie the game back up. Herculez Gomez came close when he pressured Pickens on a back pass. The best chances came late in the game, as a Matt Besler cross was headed towards Kraus, but Pickens was quick off his line and touched the ball clear. KC's best chance late came in stoppage time, when a corner by Lopez was placed perfectly for Jimmy Conrad, but Conrad's effort from the header went over the bar.

Wizards Man of the Match - Michael Kraus - Off the bench, Kraus was the Wizards most dangerous threat on offense.

Player Ratings Hartman 5, Leathers 3, Conrad 4, Hohlbein 5, Harrington 4, Gomez 5, Watson 5, Jewsbury 4, Zusi 4, Lopez 5, Thompson 4. Subs Hirsig 5, Kraus 6, Besler NR

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hartman Sets Save Record

In stoppage time of the first half today in the game between Kansas City and Colorado, Kevin Hartman made his second save of the game and the 1,137th of his career became the MLS all time leader in saves, passing former Wizard Tony Meola for the record. Congrats to Kevin Hartman on the record.

No Appearance for Espinoza

Honduras and Trinidad finished in a 1-1 draw tonight down in Trinidad, Roger Espinoza was on the bench, but did not get into the game tonight. He'll be with the team through Honduras' second qualifier this week, against Mexico on Wednesday.

Espinoza on Bench

Wizards midfielder, Roger Espinoza is on the bench tonight for Honduras in their World Cup Qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago. The match is currently at the half, the game is scoreless. Honduras is at the bottom of the Hexagonal right now after losing their opener to Costa Rica.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gazing into the Crystal Ball

Normally I avoid the corny references to Wizards and that whole situation, but this was the best name I could come up with for the new feature I'm doing. Luis Arroyave over at The Red Card blog is doing a competition basically between himself and readers predict the results of the coming week's games. For every result that is done right you get a point. Every week you pick a "lock" that if you get right you get 2 points for. And in true honor of the internet and blogs, I'm borrowing this idea and doing the same thing with it.

The first week of the season is basically a crap shoot for everyone and I will officially start with the second week of the season when everyone has an idea of how every team will play. In the first round of "Gazing into the Crystal Ball" I am taking on the President of the Wizards largest Independent Supporter's Group, The Hillcrest Syndicate, Robert Houghton.

Mike's prediction
Columbus vs Toronto FC - MLS champions host TFC, it's another Canadian invasion as TFC is bring down over 1000 supporters for the match. CLB 2-1. (DTB pick of the week)
DC vs Chicago - DC is in their home opener against the Chicago Fire, but the Fire looked strong in their opener away from home. 1-1
New York vs New England - New York can't look much worse then they did last week against Seattle, can they? 1-1
Colorado vs KC - Both teams are looking to rebound from loses in week one. 1-1
San Jose vs Houston - The old Earthquakes against the new Earthquakes again. Houston 2-1
Seattle vs Salt Lake - Salt Lake is a better team than New York, can they show that against the Sounders in week two? Seattle 2-1
Dallas vs Chivas - Chivas won last week, but didn't look incredibly impressive, Dallas lost to a good Chicago team. Dallas 1-0

Columbus Crew over Toronto FC
D.C. United over Chicago Fire
New England Revolution over New York Red Bulls
*Kansas City Wizards over Colorado Rapids
Houston Dynamo over San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle Sounders over Real Salt Lake
Chivas USA over FC Dallas

NOTE: All pictures representing my competition are meant in jest, as a joke, and a way to "belittle" my opponent in preparation for the coming week.

Winter Wonderland

The Wizards are in Colorado now, where the Denver area was put under anywhere from 10-17 inches of snow yesterday. Kansas City plays their first road game tomorrow as the Rapids have their season opener. Colorado lost their season opener last weekend to Chivas 2-1, with Omar Cummings scoring for the visiting side. This week, Colorado will be missing their on the field leader, and captain, Pablo Mastroeni, who is with the United States national team. That's likely good news for a Wizards midfield that had trouble coping with Toronto's midfield last week. It's supposed to still be cold in Colorado but apparently the sun was out today and the snow is starting to melt. Still we may see the orange ball brought out for tomorrow's game.

As for the Wizards, the injuries continue to mount up for the boys in blue. Not only will Adam Cristman, Chance Myers,Eric Kronberg, and Kevin Souter not be ready for this weekend's game again, but they will be joined by forward Josh Wolff, who is out with a hamstring injury. There is also an issue with Davy Arnaud's neck, but he's listed as probable and seems likely to play. There's also a chance Santiago Hirsig will see more playing time, but a start this week seems unlikely. If he is able to play tomorrow in England, we'll likely see the team like up like this:
Leathers - Conrad - Hohlbein - Harrington
Zusi - Arnaud - Lopez
Gomez - Thompson

PREDICTION - Both teams are 0-1 on the season so far, but KC looked to be the better team in their game against Toronto compared to Colorado's performance against Chivas. Kansas City needs to have a better start to the game and have better control of the midfield. KC would appear to be the better side, but the elevation in Denver is likely to play a role.

KC - 1 - (Gomez)
CO - 1 - (Casey)

Demolition Pictures

Demolition continues to move along at the old Bannister Mall site. The place where JC Penny's was is basically cleared now, and work has began on the inside of the old Dillard's store. Demolition is certainly moving along at a good pace. It's amazing going and seeing how far they've come on the demolition compared to how big the building was. They are getting very close to being half way done with the mall by this point, and by next week should be over halfway done with tearing the mall down. Here's the entire album from this week. The first picture some of you will recognize as the same Dillard's entrace that was used for the rally that was held at the mall over a year ago now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interview of the Week

Thad has posted this week's interview with poll winner, Davy Arnaud, in his latest write up about practice today and the Wizards press conference. Not only was Thad able to get an interview with this week's winner, Arnaud, he also got an interview with runner up, Graham Zusi. Both interviews are well done, and here are a few highlights from each.

Arnaud talks about his two goals this past weekend against Toronto and scoring them in front of his daughter, who was attending her first game, after being born around the playoffs last year. He then talks about a neck injury that he's struggling with right now that has kept him out the past few days. The good news, is that Arnaud doesn't expect to miss this weekend's game because of it. Arnaud then gives his preview of the upcoming game against Colorado and about moving on from the Toronto game and how the team needs to improve for the next game.

Zusi talks about his first career professional start, including the moments he could take back, likely referring to the first goal where he gave the ball away. He talks about going up against Jim Brennan on Toronto's left side, who was his hardest competition in the game this past week. Finally, he talks about the upcoming game in Colorado and potentially starting again with the injuries that the Wizards are dealing with.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Former Wizards Update, MLS Returns (UPDATED)

The MLS season has started up again, which means the return of many more players to the former Wizards update this week.

Nick Garcia - San Jose Earthquakes - Garcia started and played 90 minutes for San Jose in their 1-0 loss to New England.
Taylor Graham - Seattle Sounders FC - Did not appear for Seattle due to injury.
Will Hesmer - Columbus Crew - Started and played all 90 minutes in goal for the Crew in their 1-1 draw with Houston.
Chris Klein - LA Galaxy - Started and played 90 minutes for LA in their 2-2 draw with DC United.
Yura Movsisyan - Real Salt Lake - Yura and RSL did not play this week.
Brandon Prideaux - Chicago Fire - Prideaux missed Chicago's 3-1 win over Dallas.
Carey Talley - Chivas USA - Started and played 90 minutes in Chivas' 2-1 win over Colorado.
Shavar Thomas - Chivas USA - Started and played 90 in Chivas' 2-1 win over Colorado.
Dave van den Bergh - FC Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes in Dallas' 3-1 loss to Chicago.
Sasha Victorine - Chivas USA - Missed Chivas' 2-1 win over Colorado due to injury.
Tyson Wahl - Seattle Sounders FC - Wahl was on the game day roster but did not play in the Sounders first ever game.

Stephen Armstrong - Chicago Storm - XSL - The Storm lost 11-4 to the Detroit Ignition.

Eloy Colombano - Club Atlético Atlanta - Argentina - Atlanta defeated Deportivo Morón 2-0 on the 21st.
Will John - MŠK Žilina - Slovakia - John did not dress in Žilina's 5-1 win over DAC Dunajska Streda.
Eddie Johnson - Cardiff City - England - Came off the bench and played 14 minutes in Cardiff's 3-0 loss to Shffield United.
Carlos Marinelli - Millonarios - Colombia - Started and played 80 minutes before being sent off for a second yellow card in Millonarios' 1-1 draw with Independiente Santa Fe.
Scott Sealy - Maccabi Tel Aviv - Israel - Came off the bench and played 10 minutes in Tel Aviv's 1-1 draw with Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan
Matt Taylor - Tus Koblenz - Germany - Did not dress in Koblenz's 1-1 draw with Hansa Rostock.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress in Quindío's 2-2 draw with Boyacá Chicó FC.

I missed the start of the Norwegian season, where former Wizard, Khari Stephenson plays for Aalesunds FK. Stephenson has not played so far in either of Aalesunds two games, both have been 1-1 draws.

Also some news on former Wizards, Ryan Caugherty, who was drafted by the team in 2005, but never played for the Wizards has signed with the Austin Aztex of USL-1. Also, Jose Burciaga Jr. is on trial with Tecos down in Mexico.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Expansion Thoughts

So last week, MLS announced teams' number 17 and 18 that will join MLS in the 2011 season. Those two teams are Portland and Vancouver, who ended up beating out St. Louis and Ottawa for those two spots. While both cities have current history with teams (Portland with the Timbers and Vancouver with the Whitecaps) that can date back in one form or another to the old NASL days, I'm disappointed in these two additions. While I'm happy that Seattle is in now, and in two years they'll have ready made rivals with Portland and Vancouver joining the league, it does little to make me really care about the expansion. To put it another way, I'm apathetic about it. Which is how I'm sure fans in Portland and Vancouver are going to feel about Kansas City.

It's disappointing for me as a fan because my hope was that St. Louis would be one of the two teams to get in this round. With Kansas City's current closest rival 8-9 hours away in either Colorado, Dallas, or Chicago, there's not an easy there and back trip for Wizards fans to take. Not only that, but each of those teams have their own teams that they are rivals with (RSL, Houston, and Columbus respectively). If St. Louis were in the league, KC would not only have a team that would be about 4 hours away, but they'd also have a team to potentially build some sort of rivalry with. Sure St. Louis has Chicago envy and would push for a rivalry with them, but just based on proximity they won't be able to ignore the team on the other side of the state. I'm sure both Portland and Vancouver will have great fan support, but it would have been nice to have gotten a team in the Midwest.

Beyond the want for St. Louis to have a team for rivalry purposes, it also would have been nice for geographic reasons. With Portland and Vancouver coming in, it'll give the West 10 teams and the East 8 teams. Don Garber has said in the past that the league plans to keep conferences, so that means that some team is going to need to move to the East to balance the two conferences. One would think this wouldn't affect the Wizards much, since they are already in the East. Instead I think it could greatly affect the Wizards based on the other rivals that could move. Right now, one of the Texas teams would be figured to be the team moving East. But why would MLS move either Dallas or Houston to the East and ruin their rivalry? Instead I see the league moving both Dallas and Houston to the East to keep their rivalry around, and in their place, KC will move back to the Western confernce, yet again ruining anything the team has developed with teams in the East. It's a frustrating double punch that the Wizards could possibly take with this round of expansion.

Arnaud Rocket Up for Goal of the Week

Once again Davy Arnaud gets himself up for goal of the week with a rocket off of his left foot for the Wizards first goal in the Wizards 3-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday. Get over to MLSnet and vote for Arnaud's shot. For video of both goals check out the video below. And all the little kids and coaches that watch this video, take note, he scores once with each foot, that's talent.

Weekly Interview Poll

Once again Thad at The Back Post and myself are back giving you a weekly poll to interview one of the Wizards players about this past weekend's game against Toronto FC. Here are your choices this week, although feel free to put in a write in candidate.

Also remember to put any questions you have in the comments section.

Davy Arnaud - 2 golazo's one with each foot
Herculez Gomez - Moved back up top where he started in LA in his break out season.
Graham Zusi - Started his first professional game.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reserves Struggle

The Swope Park Rangers ended a poor weekend for the Wizards with a poor result against Creighton University. The Rangers drew 2-2 with the Missouri Valley Conference Champions today out at the training complex. Only 2 players from last night's game played today, and that was Aaron Hohlbein and Santiago Hirsig, here's the rest of the starting lineup.
McKenzie - Besler - Hohlbein - Marquess
Pizarro - Watson - Hirsig - Morsink
Thompson - Kraus

KC opened the scoring from the penalty spot after some what of a phantom call after a cross came into the box after a corner was only partially cleared. Former Creighton player, Michael Kraus stepped up and buried the shot to give the reserves the lead. Creighton fought back and began to control the game more, and were rewared with a goal later in the half. The Creighton player muslced Matt Besler off the ball a bit and was able to get a shot off that Boris Pardo should have done better with, as it went underneath him and into the net. Creighton continued to have the better of possession in the first half.

Half time only saw one change, as Austin Williams, one of the open tryout participants, came on for Santiago Hirsig, with Kurt Morsink moving to the middle of the field. The reserves looked a bit better, but it was Creighton that ended up taking the 2-1 lead on a nice shot after the Creighton player turned his defender. KC began to push the game more, and a 2nd goal for KC appeared to be on the way. It came when Abe Thompson played Kraus through on goal. Kraus touched the ball by the keeper, but was brought down. The referee pointed to the spot again, and once again Kraus stepped up and put the PK away. After that, KC looked the more likely of the two to score, but could not find the net, ending the contest at 2-2.

Sunday After Stats

Now that the season is back underway, I'm back with your stats for this week.

Josh Wolff went over the 15,000 minute mark for his MLS career in the 33rd minute

Davy Arnaud's second goal last night was his 43rd in all competitions, tying him with Chris Klein for second on the all time list.

Last night was the first home opener that the Wizards have failed to get at least a point out of since 1999 (a home loss to Chicago). It's also the first time the Wizards haven't taken all 3 points from their home opener since 2004.

Last night was also the first season opener the Wizards haven't taken all 3 points from since 2001 against DC.


That might be an understatement to describe last night's game against Toronto FC. Kansas City did not look good last night, while Toronto came to play and were able to pick Kansas City apart at times. Toronto had the run of play from the opening whistle, creating the better of the chances before grabbing the lead in the 33rd minute when Graham Zusi was disposed around midfield. The ball was played to Dwayne DeRosario who dribbled deep into the Wizards end before finding Jim Brennan on the left. Brennan shot high and to the near post and beat Kevin Hartman to give TFC the lead. The Wizards made some half time changes at the half, Aaron Hohlbein was pulled at half time for Roger Espinoza, and the Wizards switched to a 3-4-3/3-5-2 to try and get into the game better, as Toronto had completely dominated the Wizards midfield with DeRosario and Amado Guevara. TFC though capitalized on the extra space in the back in the 53rd minute when Guevara received the ball at the top of the box, was able to shake his defender, turn and score to give TFC a 2-0 lead.

KC's response was almost immediate, as Davy Arnaud struck a rocket from about 25 yards out into the upper 90 to pull the Wizards back within 1. Unfortunately, KC was only within a goal for about 6 minutes before TFC restored their 2 goal lead. DeRosario was able to hold off Jonathan Leathers on the wing and got a shot off that Kevin Hartman did well to save. Unfortunately there were 3 TFC players following the play, and Guevara was the first to it, slotting it past Hartman to make it 3-1. Immediately after that goal, new signing Santiago Hirsig was introduced into the match, and his introduction did wonders for the Wizards team. Hirsig was a calming influence and the Wizards started to control the game some. Hirsig played an even bigger role in getting the Wizards back to within 1. Hirsig cleaverly brought down a cross from Espinoza and touched it back to Arnaud, who from about 20 yards out struck again into the far corner to make it 3-2 TFC. After the goal, TFC again pushed forward and had a chance to go up 4-2, when a handball was called on Michael Harrington in the box. DeRosario took the PK, but skied it over the bar. KC was unable to get many clear chances late, and fell to TFC for the first time in their history at home.

Wizards Man of the Match - Davy Arnaud - Not a hard choice for the game from last night. Hirsig was a calmling influence, but if not for Arnaud's willingness to shoot from outside, KC would have had no real offensive chances in the game.

Player Ratings Hartman 5, Leathers 4, Conrad 5, Hohlbein 4, Harrington 4, Zusi 4, Jewsbury 5, Arnaud 7, Lopez 5, Wolff 5, Gomez 5. Subs Espinoza 5, Hirsig 6

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's About Time

Tomorrow the Wizards season kicks off, and it's about time, the offseason is far too long, it's time to get back to good times at CAB with friends watching the Wizards win games. The Wizards begin this season against Toronto FC, who have brought in multiple new players, including former MLS Cup MVP, Dwayne DeRosario. TFC is looking to make the playoffs for the first time in their clubs history and will be wanting to get themselves off to a good start on the road. The road, though, has not been kind to TFC over their 2 years in the league so far. With TFC's additions this season, I think they're going to be a much improved side, but it could take them a while to gel, which is a good reason the Wizards, a team with much of their core intact, to play TFC now, before they get a chance to start clicking.

Kansas City will be missing 4 players for this game due to injury. None were really expected to be starters, but three of them were expected to be contributors off the bench. Chance Myers, Adam Cristman, and Kevin Souter, along with Eric Kronberg will miss the opener due to injury. In their last preseason game, KC ran out their traditional 4-4-2 and I'd expect them to not just run out the same, but to have the same lineup that started the game against the Thunder last Saturday.
Leathers - Conrad - Hohlbein - Harrington
Zusi - Arnaud - Lopez
Gomez - Wolff

As on Saturday, I expect there to be a lot of switching of positions by the offensive players, specifically Zusi, Arnaud, Lopez, and Gomez, who I expect to rotate around to all 4 of their different positions over the course of the game to try to mix up marking responsibilities for TFC.

PREDICTION - KC is undefeated in season openers and home openers under Coach Onalfo and with the coheisiveness of having the core back together should give KC the edge against TFC. Still Toronto is much improved and will certainly provide a challenge for KC tomorrow. Get out to the tailgate early and let's show the traveling TFC fans how it's done.

KC - 2 (Lopez, Zusi)
TFC - 1 (Guevara)

More Demolition

I was able to kill a little bit of my excitement about the Wizards home opener tomorrow by stopping out at Bannister Mall to take a look at how the progress is coming on the mall. Demolition continues to move along, the old JC Penny's part of the building is now completely gone and demolition is now marching on towards the old Dillard's building. Speaking of the old Dillard's building, outside the south entrance to Dillard's there will be a small ceremony where people can take pictures of a concrete slab that has hand prints of kids from the time the store opened. That slab of concrete will then be used somehow in the new development of The Trails. Now onto some pictures, check out the whole album here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Season Preview

So the first MLS game of the season has kicked off over on ESPN2, and with MLS back on my TV, the fact that the MLS season starts for the Wizards on Saturday has officially hit me and needless to say I am pumped. And with the season only 2 "sleeps" left I figured it was time to get in a quick season preview for the Wizards.

The Wizards bring in a roster that will look very similar to the roster the team had at the end of last season. Only 5 players were lost from the team last year, and the team has brought in 4 players to replace them. The first addition was forward Adam Cristman who was brought over from New England. Kansas City added two players to the roster from this year's SuperDraft, as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have both made Kansas City's roster. Finally, the team signed Argentine midfielder, Santiago Hirsig who was last with San Lorenzo. Overall, I see this as a net gain for the Wizards considering the players loss.

Many teams in the Eastern conference look like they have done well to improve their teams. Toronto FC is one of those teams bringing in multiple new players again, including Dwayne DeRosario. Columbus has only really lost Brad Evans from their championship squad so they'll be strong again. It certainly won't be easy for Kansas City to push for one of the top spots in the East, but bringing back the strong nucleus from last year's team will certainly help. There are a few questions though heading into the season.

1. Who is going to score goals?
The Wizards only scored 37 goals last season, with Davy Arnaud leading the way with 7 goals. If KC wants to get further this season, they need to get more goal production, specifically from the forwards. Wizards forwards only scored 12 goals last season, with Claudio Lopez leading the way with 6. A full season with Josh Wolff playing with Lopez will likely help lead to both getting more goals this season. If each of them can score in the 7-10 goal range this season, the Wizards will be in decent shape.

2. Can the youth continue to improve?
Last season saw the Wizards bring along some very impressive young players in Michael Harrington, Jonathan Leathers, Roger Espinoza, and Kevin Souter to name a few. The beginning of this "bleeding of the youth" didn't drastically hurt the Wizards, in fact, the young players started to blossom as the season went on. All those players are back again this year and are joined by Zusi and Besler who will add more talented youth to the roster. These players are the future of the team, and them getting more time on the field will be important for not just this season, but 2010 and beyond.

3. Can the team stay healthy?
So far this answer is no, already KC starts the season with 3 players on the injured list in Cristman, Chance Myers, and Eric Kronberg. For KC to succeed this season they need to avoid injuries, especially to the spin of the team, if someone like Jimmy Conrad, Kevin Hartman, Davy Arnaud, etc. go down hurt, this team could really struggle this season.

Overall, while I'm looking forward to this season, I think KC can and will struggle at times. They have more depth with their young players than some of the "experts" know or admit. That depth will be tested this season with KC playing in 3 competitions. Can KC win the title this year? Sure if they get on a run, especially late they can take the cup. I just have some trouble seeing that happening though. I think KC is still maybe a season from really being able to compete with the talent that they have. KC will likely make the playoffs around the same spot they made it last year and the year before, maybe win the first round but lose in the conference finals.

Update on Former Wizards

With the MLS season starting tonight, next week we'll have a lot more players to go through, but until that point, here is your mostly international update on former Wizards.

Stephen Armstrong - Chicago Storm - XSL - The Storm lost to the New Jersey Ironmen on the 15th 9-8.

Yomby William - Puerto Rico Islanders - USL-1 - Did not play in the Islanders 2-0 win over Cruz Azul in the Semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Eddie Johnson - Cardiff City - England - Came off the bench on Sunday and played 21 minutes in Cardiff's 1-1 draw with Bristol City. It was Johnson's shot that was fumbled by the Bristol City keeper before being tapped home. Was in the 18 on Wednesday, but did not play in Cardiff's 2-1 win over Watford.
Carlos Marinelli - Millonarios - Colombia - Dressed but did not play Sunday in Millonarios' 1-1 draw with Once Caldas. Came on as a halftime sub on Wednesday in Millonarios' 0-0 draw with Deportivo Pasto.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress in either of Quindío's games this past week, a 1-0 loss to Deportivo Cali and a 2-2 draw with Real Cartagena.
Scott Sealy - Maccabi Tel Aviv - Israel - Dressed but did not play in Tel Aviv's 2-1 win over Hapoel Petah Tikva F.C.
Matt Taylor - Tus Koblenz - Germany - Came off the bench and played 8 minutes in Koblenz's 2-1 loss to Kaiserslautern.
Eloy Colombano - Club Atlético Atlanta - Argentina - Atlanta did not play this week.
Will John - MŠK Žilina - Slovakia - John did not play in either of Žilina's games this week. Saturday, they lost 2-0 to MFK Dubnica. Then Wednesday, Žilina drew 0-0 in the quarterfinals of their domestic cup to ŠK Slovan Bratislava, but they lost the first leg 2-1.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Season Tickets are Here!

I was a little worried whether the tickets would get here on time, but today on my front porch in a Priority Mail package, were this year's Wizards' season tickets. With it being only 3 days until the first game, I was ready to write a scathing write up about the lateness of the Wizards in getting the tickets out to Season Ticket Holders. Still, to an extent, I am upset that it took the Wizards this long to get the tickets out. Many of the teams have already sent their tickets out to fans, and sending them out the week of the first game is just begging for multiple fans to be calling the Wizards front office frantic wondering where their tickets are.

Overall, though, I'm happy with the look of this year's tickets. Not only did they come with my parking passes, they came with a folder with an electronic media guide and fact book, and while I'm a fan of the paper versions, this will still get plenty of use. Season Ticket Holders also got their membership card. Also included were pocket schedules, a pamphlet that has a picture of the stadium from the 3 Trails website and other bits of information on tickets, the 2008 season, and 2009 season.

As for the tickets, the Wizards did a cool think this year. While last year the team had put together a collage that spanned across tickets, this year the Wizards gave each ticket it's own theme. Each ticket has a picture representing the theme and included in the package was a sheet explaining each of the themes. Here is the list of the themes in order.

vs Toronto - OnGoal - The Wizards owners
vs San Jose - The Trails - The future home of the Wizards
vs New York - Human Tunnel - Prematch team walk out
vs DC - KCSoccerStore.com - Largest selection of Wizards merchandise
vs Chivas USA - MLS Cup 2000 - The Wizards first and only MLS Cup win
vs Columbus - World Cup Wizards - 19 current or former Wizards have been in the World Cup
vs New England - KC Soccer Foundation - Charitable arm of the Wizards and OnGoal
vs Houston - National Team Wizards - 27 current or former Wizards have represented the full US national team
vs LA - Starting XI Girls - The Wizards dancers/hospitality girls
vs Chicago - Swope Park Training Facility - The Wizards home facility
vs Salt Lake - Boot Room - "A symbol of the professional atmosphere encouraged within the training facility."
vs Dallas - Lamar Hunt - Wizards founder and first owner
vs Colorado - KCW Juniors - The Wizards youth system has so far been successful locally and some national success as well.
vs Seattle - Hillcrest Road - The Wizards official blog
vs DC - Cauldron - Home to the Wizards supporter's section.
Special Game A - KC Soccer History - Celebrating the history of the Comets, Attack, and Spurs, the city's previous pro soccer teams.
Special Game B - MLS History - The league enters it's 14th season.
Special Game C - Wizards History - History of the boys in blue.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reserve Game this Weekend

While officially the Swope Park Rangers no longer exist in an MLS sense, they will still be playing some this year. After a 1-1 draw against Minnesota on Saturday, the Rangers will play Creighton University on Sunday after the Wizards play Toronto FC Saturday night (check the schedule on the right hand side of the link). The game is at 11am and I'm assuming it's out at the training complex for those that want to attend.

Zusi Signed

Thad at The Back Post has the story that Wizards second round draft pick, Graham Zusi has officially signed with the team. According to Thad's report, Zusi has signed a senior contract with Kansas City. Definitely a deserving contract, as Zusi has had a fantastic preseason, and based on other reports seems likely to come in as a preseason favorite for rookie of the year. Zusi also appears poised to start the season opener against Toronto if the lineup in the last preseason friendly against Minnesota is the lineup they go with on Saturday.

Espinoza Call Up News

I mentioned last night that Coach Onalfo at the First Kick Party said that Roger Espinoza had again been called up to the Honduran national team for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico. Thanks to AG over at the KC Soccer Review, we have a link with the official news of the call up for Espinoza. Espinoza is part of the preliminary 23 man roster for the qualifier, that will be narrowed down to 18 for both game days. With the call up, Espinoza will likely only miss one MLS match, March 28th when the Wizards travel to Colorado is the same day that Los Catrachos play Trinidad. The second game is April 1 against Mexico. Good luck to Roger

Monday, March 16, 2009

Notes From the Wizards Event Tonight

Since the Wizards First Kick event tonight was in my own back yard in Lee's Summit I made my way over to Paradise Park to see the Wizards players and show my support for the team. I wasn't disappointed, as those that attended were given two surprises tonight. The first being the appearance of the team's offseason signing, Santiago Hirsig. Hirsig was at the event tonight and Coach Onalfo announced that Hirsig's P-1 Visa had come through and that he was now able to train with the team.

The other news from Coach Onalfo tonight was that apparently Roger Espinoza has been called up to the Honduran national team again for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers for Honduras. No official word has been released yet, but congrats to Espinoza if that is true, it's good that Espinoza's original call up wasn't just a flash in the pan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wizards Finish Preseason Undefeated

The Wizards finished out their preseason last night up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa getting a win and a draw against the Minnesota Thunder to finish the preseason 5-0-5. The first game saw what would appear to be the likely starting lineup next week taking on the Thunder's starters. Kansas City pressed the game early, and in only the 4th minute, Herculez Gomez was brought down on the far side of the field about 18 yards out. Claudio Lopez curled the ball into the the area where it took a bounce and past the keeper, who appeared to be screened, and into the net to give the Wizards the early lead. The Wizards continued to dominate play in the first half, earning multiple free kicks in dangerous positions inside the Thunder's half, most of the efforts were unimpressive, the best being another effort from Lopez, that like the first was played in from the right, bounced in the box right after Josh Wolff tried to get a flick on, and in front of the keeper, who seemed surprised the ball made it through to him, he parried it away where it was then cleared for a corner. Those were the Wizards two best chances in the first half, two chances that looked more to be crosses into the box than shots.

The Wizards made one change at half time, bringing on Kevin Souter to replace Davy Arnaud as a precaution for Arnaud's knee. "My knee was a little sore, but it's fine," Arnaud told me after the game. And with the field the way it was, it was probably the right more to take the precaution and remove Arnaud from the game. The field when I got there looked to be in poor condition and as the game went on it just got worse. Players were sliding and falling over, especially along the sidelines where it was just mud from where football players stand during games. At half time and after the first game was over, staff was out stomping the field down, but it didn't seem to do much good either time.

The Wizards started the second half off the way they finished the first half, dominating the play. And again the Wizards were able to grab an early goal, as Lopez ran down the left wing he had his first cross blocked, but the ball came right back to him, which he then played square into Jack Jewsbury who was 15 yards out. Jewsbury made no mistake slotting the ball into the corner to give the Wizards a 2-0 lead. As the half went on, the Wizards continued to make changes, with Abe Thompson coming in for Gomez and Matt Besler coming in for Jimmy Conrad. Then in the 67th minute, Thompson got in behind the Thunder defense on the right hand side, he played the ball back to Graham Zusi, who took a touch and was getting ready to shoot when a Thunder player slid in getting some of the ball, but more of Zusi. The referee made no hesitation pointing to the penalty spot and handing out a yellow card. "I know the first initial touch was mine, and then I tried to swing for the ball, but I'm not sure how he called the foul." Zusi said of the penalty call. "In MLS I don't think that foul gets called."

Lopez stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball into the corner without the Thunder keeper making a move for it. Four minutes after that goal, Lopez finished his night as both he and Wolff were subbed out for Roger Espinoza and Michael Kraus. In the 79th minute the Wizards finished up the scoring with probably the best goal of the night as the combination play was fantastic. Jonathan Leathers started off the play with a long ball over the top to Kraus on the right hand side of the field, who brought the ball down well, turned inside and played a ball to Thompson who was in the middle of the field. Thompson immediately played a diagonal ball to the left into the box for an on rushing Espinoza who took a touch and then buried the ball at the far post, similar to his goal he scored for Honduras. After that goal, the Wizards made their final sub, bringing off Jewsbury for Kurt Morsink. The Wizards were able to kill the rest of the game and take the 4-0 win.

Wizards Man of the Match - Claudio Lopez
Two goals and an assist for Lopez, a good night overall for him.

Due to the deteriorating conditions of the field, the two teams decided that they were only going to play a half of the second game involving the reserves. All the players that came on as subs in the first game, started for the reserves and were joined by Rauwshan McKenzie, Nelson Pizarro, Matt Marquess, and open tryout participant Austin Williams. Kansas City came out quick again, and opened the scoring in the 10th minute through Kraus. After that though, the game seemed to turn more towards Minnesota, as they got the majority of play and looked the more likely to score, with Boris Pardo making a few good saves early on. Pizarro had a nice volley from about 30 yards out, but it was straight to the keeper, JD Warman and Josh White were also introduced into the game as the half went on. In the 38th minute White slipped a bit on a long ball over the top. The Thunder player moved into the area as Pardo rushed out. Pardo dove for the ball, but missed and got the player. The referee had no choice pointing to the spot and giving a red card to Pardo. Into the game came the other open tryout participant, Chad Becker. While Becker guessed right on the PK, the Thunder tied the game at 1-1.

KC pressured a bit more after that, but their best chance came with virtually the last kick of the ball as Espinoza curled a free kick, but it was an easy dive and save for the Thunder keeper.

Wizards Man of the Match - Michael Kraus
Got the Wizards only goal and didn't look too bad going forward the rest of the game.

Overall, two decent performances for the Wizards. The event as a whole wasn't horrible, but I don't think it was that much of a success. With $30 tickets for people that didn't attend the clinic earlier in the day, the ticket at first glance appeared a little high. Add in that I had to pay $10 to park as well and I wasn't completly surprised that the announced attendance was only 1171. Yes it was for a good cause in helping flood victims, but that's quite a bit of money to spend for a preseason game.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Running Commentary KC vs Minn Game 2

And that's game, the 45 minute second game ends with the score of 1-1. I'll have a full write up of both games either late tonight or tomorrow.

45th minute
- Free kick from Espinoza curls well, but the keeper dives and makes the save fairly easily.

43rd minute
- The Thunder continue to dominate the reserve game, with another shot that goes over the bar.

42nd minute
- Minnesota player dribbles at McKenzie, gets him on his back foot, then takes a shot that curls and hits the post. The ball comes back in, but is played wide.

40th minute
- GOAL Minnesota get their first goal of the night from the penalty spot. Becker guesses right, but the penalty is well placed. 1-1

38th minute
- White makes a mistake on a long ball through and loses his man. Pardo comes off his line and takes out the player's foot as he dives for the ball, drawing a penalty and a red card for the keeper, so we'll get to see Chad Becker in goal.

37th minute
- Good work by Espinoza down the left, he centers to Kraus, who takes a shot, which is tipped wide by the keeper.

37th minute
- Thompson is coming off for Warman or Williams, whichever one wasn't starting.

36th minute
- KC has had a good spell of possession down in the Thunder's end, but nothing comes of it.

34th minute
- Thunder is through again, but White makes a good sliding tackle, and Pardo gets to the ball before it leaves the box.

31st minute -
White subs in for Besler. Thunder corner flies through the box but no one gets to it.

31st minute
- Josh White is getting ready to come on for KC.

30th minute
- Ball over the top wasn't going to get to the box, Pardo got off his line, beat the Thunder player to the ball and headed the ball away.

27th minute
- Pizarro takes a volley from about 30 yards out, but it's right at the keeper.

24th minute
- Minnesota continues to be the dominating team, a cross is claimed well by Pardo.

23rd minute
- Minnesota players muscles by Pizarro, but Pardo is quick off his line and is able to block the shot.

22nd minute
- Thompson lays the ball off for Kraus who's shot from 20 yards goes wide.

19th minute
- The Thunder have had the run of play and just earned a corner as one of their guys were taken down in the box.

13th minute
- Pizarro plays a ball into the back post, cleaver ball, but too close to the keeper. For those wondering, Lance Watson has a bit of a knock that's why he's not playing.

12th minute
- Morsink grabs an arm and is called for the foul. And remember this game is only 45 minutes.

11th minute
- Ball through for Minnesota but the flag goes up, a little surprisingly.

10th Minute
- GOAL Michael Kraus on a header.

Game is 5 minutes in right now, just got back from interviews.

Here's the lineup
Pizarro - McKenzie - Besler - Marquess
Andrew Williams(?) - Souter - Espinoza
Thompson - Kraus

Running Commentary KC vs Minnesota Game 1

FULL TIME The Wizards dominate again in the second half getting 3 more goals. The game as a whole was extremely chippy a lot of the reason why had to do with the field which got into extremely bad condition as the game went on. Overall, not a bad way to end the preseason. I'll be back in a little bit after some interviews with some PBP of the second.

90th minute
- Another cross by the Thunder is just over the forwards head.

90th minute
- Long shot by the Thunder that Hartman takes with his chest to kill some time.

89th minute
- Corner by Espinoza is to the near post but is cleared away.

87th minute
- The reserve players are warming up right now in preparation for the second game which I'm told will only be 1 45 minute half.

86th minute
- Morsink tries to play Espinoza in over the top, but the Thunder defender gets to the ball just before him.

85th minute
- The referee takes Morsink aside to talk to him after he is fouled by a Thunder player.

84th minute
- Hohlbein does well to hold off his man deep in his end to earn a goalkick.

83rd minute
- More slipping by both the teams defenders, the field is looking worse.

82nd minute
- KC has a little trouble clearing their end, but finally does.

81st minute
- Ball over over the top by the Thunder but the player is offside.

80th minute
- Jack Jewsbury is coming off for Kurt Morsink. And the armband goes to Hartman.

79th minute - GOAL
- Roger Espinoza. After a very nice build up. Leathers played the ball over the top to Kraus who collected turned and picked out Thompson trailing him. Thompson played the ball across the middle to Espinoza who one timed it into the far post.

78th minute
- Two more subs for the Thunder 16 and 13 on for 19 and 10.

76th minute
- Game is getting a little chippy, lots of fouls, some of which a member of the Thunder staff is not liking.

76th minute
- Ball is played on the ground through, but Hartman is off his line and slides into the ball before the attacker gets there.

75th minute -
Ball is played into Kraus who makes a nice turn but sends his shot over the bar.

73rd minute
- Thompson chests the ball down, turns but his shot is weakly into the arms of the keeper. Long ball back over the top is easily claimed by Hartman.

72nd minute
- The last few minutes have been back and forth but neither team has been able to get many good chances.

72nd minute
- 1171 is the attendance tonight.

71st minute
- Kraus and Espinoza come on for Wolff and Lopez.

71st minute
- Kraus and Espinoza are getting ready to come on for KC.

70th minute
- 3 on 3 break for KC, but Lopez takes a little too much time on the ball and the defenders catch up with him.

70th minute
- Handball called on Wolff around the middle of the field.

69th minute
- Free kick for the Thunder on the side of the box is deflected and partially cleared by KC.

68th minute
- Lopez slots it into the corner without the keeper even moving. 3-0 KC.

67th minute
- PENALTY. Thompson plays the ball in the box to Zusi who is brought down in the box. Lopez takes and puts away.

66th minute
- Ball through is easily claimed by Hartman.

65th minute
- Kraus, Espinoza, Besler, and Morsink warming up right now. 3 more subs getting ready to come on for the Thunder, 21, 24, and 14. Out are 3, 2, and 5. Besler is also coming in for Conrad now. Jewsbury takes the arm band.

62nd minute
- Thompson in for Gomez. Also 4 for the Thunder out for 11. The sub comes after a long distant shot just over the bar.

61st minute -
Abe Thompson is getting ready to come in.

58th minute -
Gomez plays a cross across the 6 yard box but no one is on the back side for the tap in.

57th minute
- The football coach is not going to be happy, his field is getting really torn up. Souter is brought down around midfield and takes a quick free kick.

55th minute
- Long throw by Leathers is headed out, but there is a foul for the Thunder.

54th minute
- Free kick by the Thunder from their own half is flicked into the box by a KC player. A Thunder player gets on the end of it but not only was his shot right at Hartman, but he was offsides.

52nd minute
- Long shot by Harrington is caught on the line by the Thunder keeper. Then Gomez is played through but the keeper gets to it first.

50th minute - GOAL
- Lopez runs down the left, crosses in, but it is blocked right back to Lopez, who picks out Jewsbury about 15 yards out, Jewsbury slots the ball into the corner 2-0 KC.

48th minute
- Leathers plays in Gomez, who drops the ball back to Lopez who has an empty net, but a defender gets a leg in. Wolff then plays in Gomez who crosses in, but the cross is deflected out for a corner. Corner comes to nothing.

47th minute
- The Thunder has come out possessing better this half but their last effort was a better field goal then shot.

Team's are back out. Arnaud is out and into the game is Kevin Souter. For Minnesota, Bass is out for number 23 also in is number 17.

While a dance team is performing during half time, staff is on the field pushing down divots. For those wondering the temperature is currently in the 40's but it's dropping as the sun goes down.

HALFTIME - 1-0 KC. KC has had the majority of possession so far, but chances have been at a premium. Both of KC's best chances have come off free kicks from Claudio Lopez. Both mainly being balls into the box and not shots.

45th minute
- Jeremiah Bass is off the field right now, he walked off and is sitting by the Thunder bench, no sub has been made. There's very little stoppage time, and we're at half. 1-0 KC.

44th minute
- The field wins again, Arnaud tries to play a through ball and as he does he slips.

43rd minute
- Leathers pushed his player off the ball and the Thunder have a free kick that they take quick, but are quickly sent dribbling back towards their own goal.

41st minute
- Zusi's free kick is poor and easily cleared for a throw.

41st minute
- Wolff tries to dribble to defenders but is fouled about 28 yards out. Zusi and Loepz are over the ball.

40th minute
- Ball is played through but right to Hartman. Ball comes back in, but Kante's shot is WELL over the goal.

38th minute
- Lopez's free kick in is almost flicked on by Wolff, but goes to the keeper who is surprise can only parry the shot which is then cleared for a corner. The corner comes to nothing.

38th minute -
Handball on the Thunder about 25 out and just to the right of goal. Zusi and Lopez over it.

36th minute
- The Thunder are seeing more of the game now with the ball deeper in KC's end, but they really haven't tested Hartman. A long throw into the box is flicked on but headed clear by Conrad.

34th minute
- The field continues to be a major player as the ball bounces over Zusi's foot and out for a throw in.

32nd minute
- Leathers crosses into the box, where Arnaud heads it down to Jewsbury whose shot from 30 yards out is over the bar.

30th minute
- Lopez collects the ball on the left, but his cross has too much on it and goes out for a goal kick.

28th minute
- Free kick from inside the Wizards half is played deep into the box, Conrad heads it to Hartman.

27th minute
- The Thunder play the ball into the box, Hartman comes to claim the ball as it's rolling in, but Conrad beats him to it and clears it out.

26th minute
- Gomez takes the free kick and it goes right into the keepers hands.

26th minute
- Zusi fouled about 25 yards from goal, Jewsbury, Lopez, and Gomez over the ball.

25th minute
- KC is dominating play in the Thunder's end, but the crosses in to Wolff are being claimed by the taller Thunder defenders.

24th minute
- Zusi's through ball to Gomez is just too long and the keeper claims.

22nd minute
- Leathers with a long throw that the keeper tries to claim, but it falls to the ground where Zusi is surrounded by 3 Thunder defenders and the ball is cleared.

20th minute
- Ball over the top to Wolff, who races onto it, but is beaten to it by the Thunder keeper. From the throw Wolff plays in a cross that is deflected for a corner. Lopez' corner comes to nothing.

18th minute
- The field is really not playing well, lots of slipping and mistouches so far.

16th minute
- Lopez plays in Harrington again, and his cross is blocked again.

15th minute
- Arnaud plays Harrington in down the line, but his cross is blocked.

12th minute
- Coach Onalfo is sporting the all black with the coat look, a little Jose Mourinho looking. Long throw again from Minnesota bounces in the box but is eventually cleared up by Conrad.

9th minute
- Gomez brought down on the near side with a tackle, ref gives a yellow Brian Kullman.

7th minute
- Wolff plays a ball into Leathers who ran forward, the ball is cleared for a corner for KC. Ensuing corner is partially cleared but put back in and KC gets another corner.

6th minute
- Zusi tries to round his defender but is not able to get by and fouls him. Cross by Youssouf Kante is too long.

4th minute
- Gomez was fouled on the far side of the field. Lopez curled the ensuing free kick into the box where it bounced once and past the keeper.

4th minute - GOAL
Claudio Lopez

3rd minute
- Quavas Kirk player through but Leathers clears for a throw in, the long throw is headed clear.

2nd minute
- Ball is down in the Thunder's end to start with the Wizards getting a few throw ins on the far side.

1st minute
- Here we GO.

5:28 - Here come the teams and the colors. Few more Thunder fans are here, maybe 9 or so. No real Cauldron presence.

5:25 - 5 minutes to game time, and not a whole lot of people in the stands right now. I'd say somewhere around 500 at the moment all in the main stand except for a few in the East stand.

5:10 - I've seen a few fans with Wizards and Thunder scarves, but not a whole lot of fans here from either team, at least not yet. The field is in some rough shape from last seasons football season. The sidelines from the 30 to the 30 are basically dirt and then your basic wear and tear within the hash marks.

It's game day again and the teams are out on the field warming up getting ready for the game. Here is the starting lineup for KC and for Minnesota.

Kevin Hartman
Jonathan Leathers - Jimmy Conrad - Aaron Hohlbein - Michael Harrington
Jack Jewsbury
Graham Zusi - Davy Arnaud - Claudio Lopez
Herculez Gomez - Josh Wolff

Wizards bench
Boris Pardo
Abe Thompson
Michael Kraus
Roger Espinoza
Kevin Souter
Kurt Morsink
Matt Besler

Nic Platter
Brian Kullman
Andres Arango
Kevin Friedland
Youssouf Kante
Jeremiah Bass
Rod Dyachenko
Ricardo Sanchez
Andrew Peterson
Melvin Tarley
Quavas Kirk

Greetings From Iowa

Here I am at Prairie High School preparing for tonight's final preseason game between the Wizards and the Minnesota Thunder. The first game is set to kick off at 5:30 with the second game tentatively scheduled for 8. The game will be played on the school's high school field.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Demolition Coming Along

The destruction of Bannister Mall is continuing to move forward, as the walls continue to come down. This week, a lot of work was done on the shell of the store that used to be JC Penny's. 2 of the 3 outside walls are now down, and it's connection with the rest of the mall is now gone. I'd be optimistic, but it's possible that next week most, if not all, of JC Penny's could be down, especially with the weather forecast. So check out some of this week's pictures and the full album here.

Guest Players in Iowa

The Wizards will have 4 guest players with the team this weekend when they go to Iowa to take on the Minnesota Thunder. Two of the players are coming from this past weekend's open tryouts. Chad Becker from Rockhurst and Austin Williams from William Jewell have been invited to come to the game. The other two are Josh White formerly of UMKC (who was likely the guy in the last picture on Thad's post from yesterday) and JD Warman, who has played with the KC Brass in the past. I'll be on the scene giving a running commentary tomorrow so I'll let you know how these guys look if they play.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Open Tryout Participants at Practice

Thad over at The Back Post was out at practice today getting more pictures of the team as it continues to prepare for the start of the season on the 21st against Toronto. While there, he got pictures of a couple new faces out at practice that would appear to be open tryout participants that are getting the chance to train with the team. The first would appear to be goalkeeper, Chad Becker, who had gone to Rockhurst University. The second one I don't really recognize or really remember from the open tryouts unfortunately. I'll see if I can get any more information on him.

Cristman Out

New Wizards forward, Adam Cristman, acquired at the beginning of the offseason from New England, will miss the start of the 2009 season with Kansas City. Cristman suffered an injury in his left foot that will keep him out for a little while. From reading the quote from Coach Onalfo it looks like Cristman is set to miss a few months with the injury, which is a big blow for the Wizards, who now are down one forward. While guys like Davy Arnaud and Herculez Gomez can play up top, they're now more suited to the Wizards midfield. With this development, the Wizards now sit with 3 forwards on their roster in Josh Wolff, Claudio Lopez, and Abe Thompson. The team also has Michael Kraus who made his first MLS appearance in the playoffs last year.

Cristman was just coming off a toe injury that had kept him out for much of the 2008 season with New England. That toe injury was still hampering him when camp started for KC this season, so Cristman was not expected to start, but this is still a big blow for KC.

Update: It appears that Cristman has broken the 5th metatarsal in his right foot and will miss 2-3 months.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Former Wizards Update

The MLS season is going to be starting soon, which means we'll see the return of many more former Wizards to this update. But until that time, here's another week of former Wizards updates.

Stephen Armstrong - Chicago Storm - XSL - Armstrong returned from injury to get 5 points in the Storm's 19-10 win over the Milwaukee Wave.

Around the World
Eddie Johnson - Cardiff City - England - Came off the bench in the 36th minute of Cardiff's 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers. Johnson scored his first club goal in nearly 19 months in the 60th minute, Cardiff's 3rd goal. Johnson started and played the full 90 minutes in Cardiff's 2-0 loss to Norwich City on Tuesday.
Carlos Marinelli - Millonarios - Colombia - Did not play in Millonarios' 1-0 loss to Atlético Nacional.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress in Quindío's 1-0 win over Deportivo Pasto.
Scott Sealy - Maccabi Tel Aviv - Israel - Started and played 65 minutes in Tel Aviv's 3-1 loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv
Matt Taylor - Tus Koblenz - Germany - Dressed but did not play in Koblenz' 3-0 win over Vfl Osnabruck.
Eloy Colombano - Club Atlético Atlanta - Argentina - Atlanta lost to Sportivo Italiano 1-0.
Will John - MŠK Žilina - Slovakia - John did not appear in Žilina's 1-0 win over Dukla Banska Bystrica.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wizards Themed Firefox Browser

I've been given a heads that the Wizards are getting ready to help you find information about the team much easier for those people that use the Firefox web browser. The Wizards are apparently set to release a Wizards-themed Firefox browser. I've been sent a few screen shots of what the new themed browser will look like, so check it out and enjoy. Personally I'm going to love this, as it makes it easy to get to the Wizards site and look up different stats, dates, or other things that I want to look up.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wizards Involved in Triple Header

Today the home venues for this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup were announced, and it looks like the Wizards will be part of a triple header on their trip to New England in July. On July 11th, the Revolution are set to host a 2 of the final group play games, along with their game against the Kansas City Wizards. It'll be a day full of soccer, as the Wizards kick off at 3pm central time. Ives Galarcep is reporting that one of the matches in New England that day will involve the US team. So it'll be a day of club and country for Wizards fans, especially for any that are interested in making the trip up to the Boston area for the game. Me, I'm interested in making the trip, I've never been to Boston period, so going and seeing the Wizards and US play would be a major bonus.

More Open Tryouts Information

Hillcrest Road has posted a quick recap of this past weekend's open tryouts. They have a good link to the list of players that made Day 2 of the tryouts. Some of the local players were able to advance to day two and some of the guys that I'd looked up elsewhere also made it. According to the Hillcrest Road link, about 10 of the players that participated in day 2 will be invited back to train with the first team at some time. Two of those players were locals Austin Williams of William Jewell College and Chad Becker of Rockhurst. Will be interesting to see who the other players to be brought back will be.

Over the course of the weekend of watching soccer I was asked by 3 members of the Wizards/front office about why I wasn't out there playing. Kevin Souter and Kerry Zavagnin both asked why I wasn't out there. The same came from Wizards Vice President, Greg Cotton on Saturday. Sorry to disappoint, maybe next year if situations improve.

Juniors Fair Well In Springfield

Over the weekend, I posted about how the Wizards Juniors were down in Springfield this past weekend competing in the 2009 Greater Springfield Area Sports Commission "Champions Challenge." Well after the weekend finished up, the Juniors had themselves a pretty productive weekend. Five of the Wizards teams went down, and the 3 that were playing in divisions that standings were kept came home with some type of silverware. The U13 Juniors went 3-1 finishing second on goals against to a St. Louis Scott Gallagher team. The U15 team went 4-0 in their 5 team group taking home the championship. The U16 team was in a 6 team group that they ended up winning with a 1-0 win in the finals over local side, Sprinfield SC.

The U17's and U18's competed in a college showcase so standings were not kept in their division. Each had some good results over the weekend, especially the U18's who in a match up of the defending MO and KS state champs defeated Springfield SC 2-0. For more information on the tournament, check out either sgfsoccer.com or the tournaments official website. Well done Juniors.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Open Tryouts Day 2

The Wizards open tryouts are over for another year, and the Wizards coaching staff have some decisions to make on whether or not to invite players back to train with the team. Unfortunately the page on the Wizards website never showed up right, so I was unable to see the names of players that made it to day two. Still I made it out there today on a much colder day and was able to catch much of the tryouts. I recognized some of the players that were out there from yesterday, while others that I thought would be there were not out there. Overall, though, I couldn't give you names of any of the players today that impressed me (mainly because many of them were wearing different numbers today). Today the tryout participants were divided into 3 teams and played 30 minute 11v11 games against the other teams. Players had the chance to impress in a more real game based environment today. We now get to wait and see if any of these players did enough to get themselves called back in to train with the team.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kings Lose in National Finals

Last weekend, the Kansas City Kings once again won the Midwest conference of the PASL and advanced to the national tournament this weekend in Las Vegas. At the national tournament, the Kings were grouped with OTW Santa Clara and the Arizona Heat. The Kings won both those group play games, and advanced to the quarterfinals where they met the San Diego Fusion. The Kings won that game 3-2 today to advance to the semifinals against the Tacoma Stars. A 5-4 win in the semifinal propeled the Kings into the championship game, where they faced off against Vitesse Dallas. The finals were a tight game, but with just over a minute left, Dallas was able to break the tie, taking a 5-4 lead. They held on and once again the Kings suffered their only lost against PASL Premier team all season in the playoffs, to eliminate the team. Still, each year the Kings seem to move closer, hopefully next year we see the Kings capture the title.

Open Tryouts Day 2

So the Wizards have invited back 50 people for Day 2 of tomorrows open tryouts. They tried to post the list of those players online, but when you click on the link, all it does is take you to a blank web page. So unfortunately I am unable to provide you with a list of the open tryout participants that have made day 2 of the tryouts. Maybe by morning it'll be fixed.

Open Tryouts and Juniors

Went out to the Wizards open tryouts today to check out the guys that had come to tryout for the Wizards. Overall, it appeared that there were quite a few no shows, as the team had 4 fields set up for the first session for 8 teams to play on, but there were only 3 in use when I got there. For the second session there were only 2 fields in use, so plenty of players appear to have decided that it wasn't worth it for them to show up for the tryouts. The tryouts were similar to last year in the fact that there were plenty of players that impressed me and I could tell they were likely to be invited back. You also had a few players that probably would have been better off saving their $205, but they'll have some good stories about trying out for the Wizards to use on girls in bars.

The list of players that make the tryouts tomorrow should be posted on the Wizards website some time tonight, once I find them, I'll get them posted, along with any impressions I have of those players.

Also today, some of the Wizards Juniors teams were down in Springfield for the Greater Springfield Sports Champions Challenge Soccer Tournament. The Juniors U17 and U18 teams are playing in a combined U17/U18 division that includes defending MO state champions, Springfield SC's U18 team. This morning, the U17's lost to the U18 SSC team 2-0. Also this morning, the U16 Juniors team put a beating on Total Demize SC 8-0. The U15 Wizards are also competing at the tournament this weekend.
Photo courtesy of Steve Ole Olson, SGFsoccer.com

Demolition Continues

On my way to open tryouts today, I stopped by Bannister Mall to get my weekly update on how the demolition is going. While looking at it from the normal angle I get pictures, it looks like not a lot of work has been done, there has certainly been plenty of work going on this week. The top floor of the old JC Penny's now has no roof on it, and the inside appears to be entirely cleared out on both levels. While I was hoping for more work to be done, especially with the nice weather we'd had the past few days, the snow on the ground early in the week probably stopped the demolition process a little bit. Check out the full gallery to see more pictures.

Friday, March 06, 2009

2009 Wizards Salaries

The MLS Players Union has released this years player salaries to the public. Overall, the minimum salary has improved to $20,000 with the majority of the players making at least $34,000. According to the list, the Wizards have the second lowest base salary, with $1.806 million. That is with the Wizards only currently having 22 of the 24 roster spots full. That is not counting recent signing, Santiago Hirsig, who is rumored to be making somewhere around the $200K mark. That leaves the Wizards with one roster spot left and three players fighting for it, in second round draft pick, Graham Zusi, one of the "winners" from last years open tryouts, Nelson Pizarro, and fourth round draft pick last year, Rauwshan McKenzie. Just based on the way the preseason has gone, one would think that Zusi is the favorite to grab that spot, but McKenzie is the only one of the three to appear on the Wizards roster on their website.

EDIT: Looking at the rosters again, the Wizards don't have any developmental players listed at all, minus their GA players. That means that one of the currently players on the list will likely need to be waived to make room for Hirsig on the roster. It also means the Wizards have two developmental roster spots to fill, which means that one of Zusi, Pizarro, and McKenzie will not make the team this year it would appear. This is all contingent on whether or not the Wizards put Kronberg and Myers who will miss the start of the season on IR or not. If they don't, then all 4 of those players will be on the roster without anyone getting cut.

As for the rest of the roster, here are the salaries for the rest of the players. The base salary is listed first, followed by the gauranteed compensation.

Davy Arnud $220,000.00 $228,750.00
Matt Besler $36,000.00 $47,250.00
Jimmy Conrad $213,750.00 $225,000.00
Adam Cristman $34,650.00 $34,650.00
Roger Espinoza $70,000.00 $103,750.00
Herculez Gomez $54,408.38 $54,408.38
Michael Harrington $64,560.00 $82,060.00
Kevin Hartman $165,000.00 $165,000.00
Aaron Hohlbein $34,650.00 $34,650.00
Jack Jewsbury $130,000.00 $139,125.00
Michael Kraus $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Eric Kronberg $34,650.00 $34,650.00
Jonathan Leahters $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Claudio Lopez $180,000.00 $180,000.00
Matt Marquess $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Kurt Morsink $34,650.00 $34,650.00
Chance Myers $70,000.00 $130,000.00
Boris Pardo $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Kevin Souter $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Abe Thompson $60,000.00 $63,625.00
Lance Watson $34,000.00 $34,000.00
Josh Wolff $200,004.00 $200,004.00

Some notes about the salaries. Davy Arnaud is now the highest paid Wizards player making $220,000 in base salary this year. Last years highest paid player, Claudio Lopez is earning 4 tims less against the cap this year, with only $180,000. It looks like even with the addition of Hirsig and whoever else takes a roster spot, the Wizards will have quite a bit of cap room left heading into this season.

Hirsig Visa Not Through

I made it out to the Wizards afternoon practice yesterday to see how the team looked with the season a little over 2 weeks away. Overall, the team looked sharp in their small sided drill they were doing when I showed up yesterday. All but 3 of the players are currently training. Two of those missing are long term injuries to Chance Myers and Eric Kronberg. The other one is Santiago Hirsig, who after training with the team down in Mexico has to wait for his visa from the US government before he can begin working with the team in the US. It would appear that Hirsig will not be in the starting 11 when the season starts on the 21st because of these issues along with his lack of game fitness. Still getting him in will be a big boost for the team, as he'll provide some good veteran leadership for the team.

Also from being at practice today, it looks like the Wizards two remaining trailists, Ferenc Béres and Chris Brown have been released. Béres had not gotten in a game since early in the trip to Mexico, and Brown had only one appearance in preseason with the team. For Béres, it was probably the numbers game in the midfield that saw him not gain a spot. For Brown, he appears to have lost the battle with Boris Pardo to back up Kevin Hartman until Kronberg is healthy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Former Wizards Update (US League Players Return)

Back with another update on the former Wizards playing around the world. This week we actually have the return of players based in US leagues as the CONCACAF Champions League kicked back off last week.

Yomby William - Puerto Rico Islanders - Did not play in either of Puerto Rico's two games against Marathón. The Islanders won both games, 2-1 at home and 1-0 on the road last night.

Stephen Armstrong - Chicago Storm - XSL - The Storm lost on Saturday the 28th 15-4 to the Milwaukee Wave. The Storm came back on Sunday and defeated the Detroit Ignition 6-4.

Around the World
Eddie Johnson - Cardiff City - England - Came on and played the last 9 minutes of Cardiff's 1-0 loss to Southampton on Saturday. Started and played the full 90 minutes of Cardiff's 3-1 win over Barnsley, getting an assist on Cardiff's 3rd goal and was named Man of the Match.
Carlos Marinelli - Millonarios - Colombia - Started and played only 13 minutes before being subbed out due to injury in Millonarios 1-0 win over Cúcuta Deportivo.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress for Quindío's 2-1 win over Once Caldas.
Scott Sealy - Maccabi Tel Aviv - Israel - Started and played 90 minutes in Tel Aviv's 1-0 loss to FC Ashdod.
Matt Taylor - Tus Koblenz - Germany - Came on at half time of Koblenz' 2-0 win over FC Augsburg that pulled Koblenz out of the relegation zone.
Eloy Colombano - Club Atlético Atlanta - Argentina - Atlanta beat Acassuso 3-2 this past week.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Changes to the Starting XI Girls

Thanks to AG over at the KC Soccer Review for posting this link today about the Wizards' Starting XI Girls. If the link is true, it looks like we'll be seeing some changes to the Starting XI Girls. Instead of just being a hospitality group, the girls will also be a dance team. There will be 16 girls on this years team, 11 will be dances and the other 5 will be involved in hospitality. It also looks like we'll be seeing some of the old Brigade girls come out for the Wizards, as the group is under the direction of a former Brigade girl.

I'm a little disappointed in this move by the team if true. Part of the reason why is because honestly, I have friends that were Starting XI Girls last year, and not only were they good at it, but they are soccer fans too, which is something that helped make them better at their job. The other reason, is because I had hoped the Wizards had moved past the "need" for a dance team at games. I don't really think there's a need for a dance team at a soccer game. They perform at half time and maybe once before the game, but other than that what else would they do during the game? Last time the team had a dance team, they danced along to the in house music that was pumped over the speakers at Arrowhead during the game. And this better not mean a return to that, or else it is a HUGE step back for this team. Yes they provide eye candy for all the guys in attendance, but the original Starting XI Girls provided that and they didn't have dances at half time with horrible remixes and dance music.

Wizards Draw Again

The Wizards closed out their time in Mexico with a 0-0 draw with Salamanca FC's first team today in Mexico. KC put out a very likely first team, minus Boris Pardo, who played the entire game in net. Like the friendly against Chivas earlier in their trip, the Wizards made only limited substitutions. The first was a forced substitution in only the 40th minute of what would appear to be a rough first half. Nine yellow cards were handed out, and Wizards midfielder, Santiago Hirsig was red carded. Since it was a friendly, KC was allowed to replace Hirsig, with Graham Zusi coming on.

In the second half, both teams were able to get 2 shots on goal, but both keepers held their ground and kept the shutout. Herculez Gomez was able to get more time playing the last 20 minutes, in his second game back from knee surgery. Abe Thompson came in with Gomez, before Kevin Souter rounded out the subs coming on for Zusi in the 75th after he turned an ankle, but it's said he should be ok.