KC Breakdown: Lack of finishing Wizards' downfall
A 2-1 defeat on Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders (13-9-6, 45 points) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
Third place in the Eastern Conference on 33 points (9-12-6)
Three things to take away
1) Kansas City’s season isn’t over mathematically, but it sure seems that way. After losing their third straight game after clawing back into the playoff race, the Wizards are – somehow – still alive. Seven of eight postseason berths are now wrapped up with only KC and Colorado still in the running for the final spot.
But in order for manager Peter Vermes’ team to join the party, the Rapids will have to lose back-to-back against the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake while the Wizards will have to pull off a miracle of their own and earn three straight victories. Possible? No doubt. Likely? Not so much.
2) The club’s No. 1 priority in the offseason has to be improving their finishing touch. Kansas City aren’t a bad offensive team: The Wizards move the ball well, provide service from wide areas and create plenty of clear-cut chances. As recent defeats to New York and Seattle proved, among other results all season long, the problem is the final piece of the puzzle.
KC just haven’t finished their opportunities well enough to put themselves among the top eight teams in the league. Kei Kamara has taken big steps forward this year, Teal Bunbury is the center forward of the future and Omar Bravo will pick up some of the slack in 2011, but finishing just hasn’t been consistent enough this season.
3) In 2010, the Wizards laid a solid foundation for the future. However, the team probably doesn’t deserve a playoff berth. If you just take the team that played from July 14 on, starting with KC’s victory in Columbus, the Wizards were 6-4-3 and earned 21 points of 39 possible. That’s above average, but it’s still not world-beating.
Over the course of a 30-game season, extrapolating that form would give Kansas City a fraction more than 48 points, which would still likely leave them on the playoff cusp, especially as the league continues to expand. So what is the point of all this? The Wizards were a solid, mid-table side, especially after July 14, but their playoff resume is clearly lacking.
Two players who stood out
[inline_node:316444]At this point in his rookie season, Teal Bunbury is clearly staking his claim to a full-time starting spot in 2011. His four goals this season aren’t a ton – and to his credit, he acknowledges that he should have more – but the striker is putting himself in the right positions and has a physical package few can match. With another offseason under his belt, Bunbury should be in line for a breakout season next year.
Say what you will about Davy Arnaud, but nobody takes losses harder and nobody puts more into each game than Wizards captain. After two red cards sullied his image in the season’s early weeks, the midfielder has been a model of consistency and leadership for Kansas City.
One play that changed the game
Rather than pinpoint one play, just reference the Wizards' problems finishing. Kansas City had their chances to take the lead, but just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. In the end, Seattle got the first goal, and then a second, to make the gap too much for the Wizards to close.
Seattle came to play for the draw, so losing to them is certainly a "sour pill" for Kansas City to swallow, as Bunbury put it after the match. Realistically, the Wizards knew this was a must-win game and, even though they are still alive in the race for the playoffs, the odds are very slim at this point.
Tuesday vs. the Chicago Fire (8-11-8, 32 points) at Toyota Park. A loss or draw would end the Wizards' playoffs hopes immediately. So, once again, this is a must-win in every sense of the word. While the Fire’s season is already over, they will be playing for pride in front of their home fans and would no doubt love to be the ones to shut the postseason door on their Eastern Conference rivals.