Sunday, August 08, 2010

Wizards Take a Point

While it feels good to grab a point against the defending MLS Cup Champion's Real Salt Lake, the Wizards need to start getting 3 points from their home games, especially when they open the game the way that they did last night. Hopefully the Wizards can start turning these 1 points into 3 points. Because it'll be needed for a playoff run.

The Wizards started the game fantastically for KC, they were controlling the game and creating chances. Ryan Smith in particular had a very strong performance as he left Salt Lake defenders picking up their jock multiple times. One of those times inside the first 10 minutes almost led to KC opening the score. Smith's cross was met by Teal Bunbury, whose shot was blocked. The ball fell into the path of Davy Arnaud, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando beat Arnaud to the ball smothering the ball. KC continued to press the game with Smith attacking down both wings and putting in crosses. Michael Harrington and Roger Espinoza did as well. KC had some half chances and some chances wide, but couldn't get the final touch. The play though finally paid off for KC in the 21st minute. After some sustained possession by the Wizards Harrington played a cross in from the right that went through the box to the left side. Smith picked the ball up, turned his defender and played a great ball into the box. Kei Kamara beat his defender and headed it into the corner of the goal. The header was perfectly placed, leaving no chance for Rimando to score.

After the goal KC seemed to sit back a bit, and RSL was able to come at KC more and controlled the game more. KC still got some control and possession, but it was RSL that had more of the ball. In the 33rd minute, a cross from Robbie Russell was met by Robbie Findley who was left wide open in the middle of the box. Findley headed it past Jimmy Nielsen in net, and immediately Nielsen called for a hand ball. And while post game Findley admitted to it coming off his hand, the goal stood and the score was level. Even with the hand ball it was a totally blown marking assignment by the Wizards as Findley had acres of space in the Wizards box.

In the second half RSL almost took the lead only a few minutes into the half as Javier Morales got in on goal, but Nielsen turned in his weekly save of the week nominee, stopping Morales. Morales worked to take the game over in the second half as he had RSL's best chances. Later in the half off of a free kick Nielsen again had to come up with a big save on Morales to keep the game level. In the 75th minute Morales again came close with a blast from long range, but it was over Nielsen's net. KC had their chances as well, as Smith sent a rocket of a shot just wide of the post as he continued to turn defenders inside out. In the 86th the Wizards thought they'd found a winner from Bunbury, but he collected a deflected ball from Graham Zusi. An unfortunate play, but Bunbury was just offside. Both teams had to take only a point out of the game.

Wizards Man of the Match - Ryan Smith - Smith was smooth all night. Turning players inside out offensively all night. He played in some great crosses, including a great one for Kamara's goal. Those were flashes of the style of play that had made him a future star in England.

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

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