For those that missed my Tweets pregame last night, I was incredibly unhappy with the decision to Birahim Diop up top in the center striker position. Diop has been very unsuccessful when he's come on as a substitute this season as a striker. The biggest was his poor finishing against Toronto FC when he had the full goal to shoot for. Last night he made me eat my words as he turned in a great performance, getting 2 goals an an assist as KC took it to the New England Revolution 4-1 at Community America Ballpark.
The first big note about the game was before it even got started. Revolution coach Steve Nicol decided to put out a 3-5-2 because of the smaller field mainly. Unfortunately for Nicol and the Revs, that played right into KC's playing style down the wings. KC worked early to try and exploit the space down the wings. Ryan Smith had a chance well saved by Matt Reis, and Diop had a chance that he blasted over the bar that prompted sighs of frustration from myself and others around me as it seemed to be a sign of what to expect over the course of the game. All that within the first 10 minutes of the game.
In the 16th minute Diop made myself and everyone else that made pregame comments regret them. Kei Kamara received the ball on the wing in the Wizards defensive half. He played a through ball to Diop who was held on by Darrius Barnes, despite what the New England commentating crew said during the broadcast. On the break Diop calmly dribbled in on Reis and slide the ball past him inside Reis' near post for his first career goal in his first start in MLS in 8 years and 88 days. KC continued to control the game after the first goal, and in the 27th minute, KC doubled their lead again through Diop. Kamara received a thrown in from Michael Harrington controlled the ball, cut, turned, and lofted a cross to the 6 yard box where Diop out jumped Kevin Alston and headed past Reis to double the Wizards lead, only the 4th time KC has scored more than a goal in a game. New England battled back after the second goal, getting more control of the ball and in the 37th minute pulled a goal back. Khano Smith came down the Wizards right, beating Craig Rocastle. Smith fed the ball to Kenny Mansally at the top of the box. He turned and fired as Jimmy Conrad stuck a leg out to try and block the shot. Unfortunately Conrad didn't block the shot, the shot deflected off him and left Jimmy Nielsen stranded as it bounced past him and into the net.
In the second half, the Revolution continued to push forward to try to find the equalizer. Unfortunately for the Revs, it was the Wizards that found the next goal in the 65th. Smith found Diop down the right wing. Diop did well to control the ball and keep it in play before sending a low cross into the box. Kamara held off his defender, let the ball run across his body and slotted the ball inside Reis' near post to make it 3-1 KC. New England almost responded immediately as Corey Gibbs was found alone in the box, but his attempt to curl the ball into the top corner put the ball out for a goal kick. Shortly after the Revs chance, KC put the game to bed. Emmanuel Osei played a slow, sloppy back pass to Reis. Smith raced in trying to challenge Reis for the ball. Reis slide out to knock the ball away, beating Smith to the ball. The ball fell to Jack Jewsbury who was following the play. And as Reis came out to make another sliding challenge to knock the ball away again, Jewsbury slotted the ball under Reis and into the empty net. The Revolution continued to push forward after that, trying to get back into the game, but also seeming to realize that the game was beyond them. KC held on for their 6th win of the season, their first when they actually allowed a goal.
Wizards Man of the Match- Birahim Diop - Two goals and an assist for the Senegalese d-mid/forward. A good performance for Diop in his first MLS start in 8 years. Diop showed control and composure on the ball unlike what we'd really ever seen from Diop in his previous appearances in a Wizards uniform.
Honorable Mention - Kei Kamara
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Harrington 5, Conrad 5, Thomas 5, Espinoza 6, Arnaud 6, Auvray 7, Rocastle 6, Kamara 7, Diop 8, Smith 7. Subs Jewsbury 6, Zusi 5, Myers NR.