Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ending on a High

The Wizards closed out the 2010 season on a high note, the same way they began it, by putting 4 on the board, this time against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Earthquakes put out a fairly first team lineup for the game, including MVP candidate, Chris Wondolowski. The Wizards on the other hand threw out a lineup that included many reserve players. Players like Chance Myers, Graham Zusi, Korede Aiyegbusi, and Eric Kronbereg all got rare starts with KC having nothing to play for.

KC started the game brightly and Zusi almost had his second goal of the season inside the first 2 minutes as he collected a ball out on the left, cut inside and fired a shot that hit the top of the bar. Zusi continued to be an early threat and in a similar situation to his first chance, Zusi pushed a shot just wide of the post. KC controlled much of the game early on, and Kronberg, in his first MLS start had little that he really had to do as much of San Jose's possession in the Wizards offensive half was cut off by the defense in front of him. In the 36th minute, KC got themselves on the board as Jonathan Leathers picked out Birahim Diop on a long ball over the top. Diop out raced his defender and headed the ball past the ball past an onrushing Jon Busch and into the net giving the Wizards the early lead. Shortly after the first goal, KC had a great opportunity to double the lead. Zusi played a cross into the box that struck the hand of a San Jose defender. No call was made, but the ball fell to Diop around the penalty spot. Diop took a touch and fired the ball on goal, but Busch did well to knock the ball away for a corner.

Into the second half, KC continued to have the better run of the play and doubled their lead in the 60th minute. Roger Espinoza got down the left wing and played a cross into the box, the ball went over Diop to Jack Jewsbury, but was cut off by a San Jose defender. The ball went up into the air, and Diop was the first to react, heading the ball past Busch and into the side netting for his 4th goal of the season. San Jose started to finally get some decent chances, and at least forced Kronberg to make a few saves, then in the 70th minute, San Jose made a game out of it as Geovanni got away from Leathers on the right side and played a ball across the middle to the back post where Wondolowski was completely unmarked, the MVP candidate put the ball away easily getting San Jose back in the game. How a guy that had scored 17 goals this season coming into the game last night was that wide open on the back post in anyone's guess, but it looked like Roger Espinoza got caught ball watching. KC shortly later put the game away though. A quick turnover in midfield by San Jose fell to Craig Rocastle who one touched a ball over the top to Diop, who had again gotten behind the Earthquakes defense again. Diop brought the ball down into his path and then fired a left footed volley from about 25 yards out, over Busch and into the net giving Diop the hattrick. Shortly after Diop finished his hattrick KC should have made it 4-1. Zusi played in a great free kick to the back post. Matt Besler met the ball, but his header was right at Busch whose reaction save knocked the ball over the bar. KC did get their fourth in stoppage time as Kei Kamara beat two defenders down the line and played a cross along the ground towards Josh Wolff. The cross though was met by Eduardo who directed the ball into his own net. While it doesn't top making it into the playoffs, it at least allowed KC to end the season on a high note and close out CAB.

Wizards Man of the Match - Birahim Diop - I've been hard on Diop for much of the season, he's been fairly frustrating to watch at times, but last night was a great performance by the Senegalese forward/midfielder. All 3 of his goals were well taken, especially the third, which was truly world class.

Player Ratings - Kronberg 5, Leathers 5, Besler 6, Thomas 6, Espinoza 5, Arnaud 5, Jewsbury 6, Aiyegbusi 5, Zusi 6, Diop 8, Myers 5. Subs Rocastle 6, Kamara 6, Wolff 6

1 comment:

Ron Bishop said...

Diop has been doing great actually. Looking over season statistics, the Wizards won whenever he scored. That's almost 20% of their wins.

He finished tied for third in goals (5) for the Wizards but played less than 500 minutes over 14 games. Only Kei (10) and Davy (6) had more. He tied with Bunbury (5) but all three of those guys played 26+ games and had 2,418, 2,342, and 1,441 minutes respectively.

Not saying Diop is "the answer" but he hasn't done too shabby for a guy signed (and still listed) as a defender:) He could be very handy with the weird schedule next year.

I'd like to see Bunbury, Diop, and Kei up front sometime.