Kansas City Wizards 2008
2008 Club by Club
Kansas City Wizards
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
KC began the 2008 season with two huge "firsts". Argentine World Cup veteran Claudio Lopez was signed as the team's first-ever Designated Player, and the team had a home away from Arrowhead Stadium for the first time, CommunityAmerica Ballpark (CAB).
The home opener was a huge success on the field, as the Wizards defeated D.C. United 3-0, and also set a tone in the stands, as the organization had their first-ever home sellout, the first of several at CAB in 2008.
An unbalanced home schedule sent the Wizards away for over two months, and late summer found the team nearer the bottom of the standings than the top, but a series of mid-season trades shook up the Wizards' roster and set the team up for a late-season run. Midfielder Sasha Victorine was traded to Chivas USA, forward Abe Thompson came in from FC Dallas and, most significantly, M/F Herculez Gomez came in from the Colorado Rapids. Gomez, in particular, made an immediate impact on the right side of midfield, with Davy Amaud and Jack Jewsbury forming a dynamic partnership in the center of midfield.
The Wizards kicked off a late season run with a 2-0 victory over the LA Galaxy at Arrowhead Stadium, scoring twice in three minutes early in the second half; the second, a 35-yard bomb from Davy Arnaud, was among the finalists for MLS Goal of the Year. Spurred on by great home field support, the Wizards finished the regular season strong; the home finale, a sold-out 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, was selected by MLS as one of the top games of 2008. The game marked the end of an era, as longtime midfielder Kerry Zavagnin donned Wizards blue for the final time in the regular season. Zavagnin retired at the end of the season.
In the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Wizards faced the Supporters' Shield-winning Columbus Crew in a two-leg series. The Wizards were on the doorstep of going to Columbus with a 1-0 lead when late substitute Steven Lenhart equalized for the Crew in the game's waning seconds. In the away leg, the Wizards lost 2-0 despite a number of good chances to score, and the Crew went on to win MLS Cup handily. A season of firsts ended with a good deal of hope for the future.
2008 brought not only a change in the team’s uniforms, adding navy and yellow accents to a new primary shade of blue (Cobalt), but a much bigger change: a new stadium. CommunityAmerica Ballpark proved to be a successful home ground for the Wizards, with the team posting their second-best home record in club history. Claudio Lopez also became the first player signed under the MLS Designated Player rule; the two-time World Cup vet for Argentina went on to lead all MLS newcomers in scoring. Unfortunately, the team couldn't top its playoff performance from the previous season, going out to eventual champion Columbus in the first round.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD:11-10-9(42pts)
PLAYOFF FINISH: Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals
KEY ACQUISITION: Claudio Lopez (Designated Player), Josh Wolff (mid-season signing)
MVP: Jimmy Conrad. GOLDEN BOOT, WIZARDS HEART AWARD: Davy Amaud. DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: Jack Jewsbury. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Roger Espinoza. HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR: Kevin Hartman. RESERVE TEAM PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ivan Trujillo
MLS BEST XI: Jimmy Conrad. MLS ALL-STARS: Jimmy Conrad