Sunday, August 29, 2010

Creeping Up the Table

The Wizards are slowly working their way up the table and back into really being considered for playoff contention. KC only has 1 loss in since the middle of July in league play, going 4-1-2 in that stretch. The latest win in that run came last night as the Wizards took down the league leading, but slumping, LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. KC came out and was the more threatening team early on. Kei Kamara had a half chance off of a cross and set up another good opportunity off of a free kick that he nodded in front of goal but no one on KC could get to it. Kamara was a big threat early on for KC, especially down the right wing, where he was able to get a few crosses off. One of those in the 12th minute gave KC the lead. There were hints of a foul by Kamara on Todd Dunivant, but it wasn't called. Kamara went down the right and crossed on the ground into the path of Davy Arnaud who took a touch and then slide the ball past Donovan Ricketts and into the net to give KC the early lead. A nice run by Arnaud and a very nice cross on the ground by Kamara.

At the other end of the field, KC was doing a good job of containing Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan. Jimmy Conrad and Shavar Thomas both had situations where they kept Buddle under wraps. And Stephane Auvray did well to help contain Donovan's runs out of the midfield in the first half. KC continued to try to catch LA on the counter in the first half, especially after going up a goal. KC should have made it 2 in the 36th minute. Arnaud stole the ball off of Leonardo on the LA back line and sprinted towards goal. Arnaud drew both defenders and then laid the ball off to Birahim Diop on the other side of the defenders. Diop's first touch was too heavy though and it raced far enough ahead of him that Ricketts had time to get off his line and block the ball as Diop tried to round the keeper.

LA made some changes at half time, most notably putting Donovan up top with Buddle. This caused the Wizards a few problems as Auvray dropped a little deeper to help with Donovan's speed. This left more space for the Galaxy midfield and Chris Birchall almost took advantage of it twice. The Wizards midfield lost the Trinidad international and Birchall was able to race into the box, but Jimmy Nielsen came up with a big toe save to knock the ball wide. Shortly after that first chance, Birchall had another good chance coming in from a deep run as he again got into the box, but his shot was once again well saved by Nielsen. Shortly after Birchall's second chance Diop once again should have made it two as he collected a loose ball, dribbled in on goal, but his shot was saved by Ricketts as he tried to pick out the near post. Diop and Ryan Smith both had other chances, but their chances came at the expense of a better chance for the other player on each play.

KC doubled the lead in the 70th minute after Smith was fouled by Birchall. Arnaud played in a nice service into the box that Conrad was able to get a foot on and knock into the net off the post. Conrad beat Buddle on the play, but the replays weren't entirely conclusive on whether it was Conrad's or an own goal on Buddle. Either way the Wizards had their second goal of the game, the first time this season they've done that. LA made some more adjustments and tried to get back into the game but never really created any more dangerous chances that challenged Nielsen in the Wizards net. KC held on for the 2-0 win, their second road win of the season, both against teams at the top of the table in their respective conferences.

Wizards Man of the Match - Davy Arnaud - A goal and an assist for Arnaud last night. A solid performance as he should have had at least one more assist if not for some poor finishing by Diop in the box. Hopefully he's hitting a good run of form as the Wizards could use another goalscorer to get hot.

Honorable Mention - Kei Kamara, Michael Harrington

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Harrington 7, Conrad 7, Thomas 7, Espinoza 6, Arnaud 8, Auvray 6, Rocastle 6, Smith 6, Diop 6, Kamara 7. Subs Jewsbury 6, Bunbury 5, Zusi NR.


Reepicheep said...

Best Wizards performance this year. Davy looked worthy of the "C" . I do hope they go back to starting Bunbury over Diop.

Moop said...

I second what Reepicheep said about Arnaud. I'm not a big fan of him sometimes, but last night he played a great game all around. He was instrumental to our scoring (obviously), but he worked his butt off defensively too. Great team effort for the lads. Good job all around.

Ron Bishop said...

Really starting to look like a "team".

It's great that we have the issue of who starts - It means we have some talent on the bench! Every team has a few stars. It's having a full well-rounded team that will get us into the playoffs!

With the international call-ups coming up, we'll need to tap into that talent.