Defense wins the day for Wizards
The Kansas City Wizards used a stifling defense - and took advantage of the one opportunity they were given - to defeat D.C. United 1-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to seven matches.
Playing in front of 26,223 home fans, the largest of the season and the second largest all-time in Kansas City, the Wizards showed that even though they lack the marquee value of a young phenom, they can bring home the points.
Early on, it was United who were most impressive by pressing the attack throughout the half through midfielder Jaime Moreno and forwards Alecko Eskandarian and Freddy Adu, and the Wizards were nearly caught.
"First half we were a bit unorganized. We got caught halfway in between and that opened up some gaps. I got pulled out and that opened up the middle," said Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad.
The recently potent Wizards' attack could only send searching balls forward that mostly fell to United center back Ryan Nelsen until the 17th minute, when Davy Arnaud stripped Brian Carroll of the ball 35 yards from goal. He ran to goal and rolled a shot past Nelsen and 'keeper Troy Perkins that Matt Taylor just tapped in at the far post for his third goal.
"[The coaches] said before the game to us if we had a chance to isolate one of their guys in the back to run at them," said Arnaud. "I had an opening one-on-one, and he (Nelsen) had to play both Matt and I. He chased toward Matt, and I just pushed it by him and tried to get the shot off on target."
After that, the Wizards kept things very organized in limiting United to few opportunities. "We did a pretty good job of keeping their chances at half-chances, and Tony came up with some good saves," said Conrad.
Said Arnaud: "I don't think your going to score five goals every time you go out there. But the good thing about our team is a lot of the time one goal is enough especially with the way our guys in the back have been playing."
Wizards coach Bob Gansler was still thrilled with the victory, even with the lack of offensive finality from his club.
"It was a workmanlike win this evening. The last game we won it offensively, this time we won it defensively - but it's good that we can decide games in a variety of ways," he said. "We are confident because of these results and we're in a nice cycle right now. The confidence gets us success and the success gets us more confidence."
United coach Peter Nowak applauded his team's effort, but showed disappointment at his team's inability to build off their impressive 6-2 victory last weekend against the MetroStars.
"We showed heart today, but that alone is not enough. We simply didn't play well," he said. "Consistency is key in this league and when we become more consistent we'll win more games like tonight."
But midfielder Earnie Stewart was more sanguine. "First of all, we're away this week. Then, after giving up a goal, we were playing from behind. Kansas City is very tough to break down, especially when they have the lead," he said.