D.C. trusts defense to hold off K.C.

While the Kansas City Wizards defense will be faced with their matchup against one of the league's top attacks in D.C. United, the Black-and-Red will have their own test facing them as their defenders expect to have a busy afternoon on Sunday in trying to shut down Kansas City's speedy forward duo.

"Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud are very offensive-minded players, and they're very quick up front," defender Mike Petke said. "We have to keep an eye on them, but we have to deny their service from the midfield. If we can deny their service from midfield -- our midfield will do the job -- then they're going to be written out of the play."

Said center back Ryan Nelsen: "They're quick up front, but at least you know it. With speed up front, you can say 'all right, they're quick' -- that's something you can address. The strikers I get worried about are the ones that are crafty -- you don't know what you're going to do. Both of them are quick and crafty, so it's going to be tough.

"But we've got Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian, who are just as dangerous. If we can get the ball to them and get those guys running, hopefully Josh and Davy might have to do some defending."

Nelsen's optimism is reflective of the team as a whole, with the players and coaches respectful of their opponents but confident in their own squad, especially riding a six-game winning streak that began in September.

"They're just very good, solid players," says Nelsen of the Wizards' midfield. "(Kerry) Zavagnin plays very simple, very effective. They don't have an absolute superstar, which is why they're so successful. They don't have one avenue they go through in attack. Every other team has a playmaker that everybody talks about, which I think actually hurts a team -- if that playmaker is off, then where do you look?"

United head coach Peter Nowak claims to be unconcerned with the Wizards' tactics.

"I never look at what the competition is going to do," said the 1998 MLS Cup MVP. "I always work with my team and say, 'Let the competition worry about us, and what they're going to do to stop us.' It's going to be the same way this weekend.

"I believe in my guys. We came here as a team with nothing to lose, and we have been through a lot as a group. We're going to be ready like any given weekend, and play our way."

Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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