Night of firsts a start for Wizards
The 3-3 deadlock for the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night against FC Dallas was full of significant firsts that might go a long way in determining the club's fate both in the near and distant future.
Offseason addition Sasha Victorine returned to the lineup to claim his first goal with the Wizards after dealing with a left hamstring strain that kept him out of two matches.
"It was nice to get that first one off my back and show I can contribute offensively," said Victorine of his fourth-minute header from a Jimmy Conrad redirection of Chris Klein's corner kick.
Victorine was brought over from the Galaxy in part for his offensive abilities that would enable Kansas City to attack more out of the back. If Victorine can consistently contribute to the offense, the Wizards will be more likely to sustain their current healthy two goals per game average.
Also hoping to add to the offense, and playing center midfield for the first time this season, was Alex Zotinca. Zotinca had started at right back for Victorine for two matches, and now appears to be the first choice to fill Diego Gutierrez's central midfield role.
Running behind Klein and onto a brilliantly-played dummy of a Josh Wolff pass in the 30th minute, Zotinca fired a steamroller on FC Dallas goalkeeper Scott Garlick that he made a fingertip save on to deny Zotinca his first goal of the new year.
"It would have been pretty to go in," said Zotinca. "Sometimes when you hit a perfect ball the 'keeper makes a save, and sometimes you just miskick the ball and it goes in."
Zotinca's first match working with the more defensively oriented Kerry Zavagnin had its up and downs, but Zotinca and Zavagnin realize an adjustment period is inherent.
"Maybe there are a few things we need to communicate and get a feel for each other on, but for him being at that position for the first time this year, I thought he did a good job. It takes a few games to get acquainted," said Zavagnin.
"I enjoy the position. FC Dallas was a tough test for me," said Zotinca, proud that Wizards boss Bob Gansler had the faith to put him into the vacated spot. "There are still a few things to work on. I'm very critical of myself; I think I could have done better."
But what created the biggest buzz in the home crowd was Preki's first appearance since August of last season when he entered the contest in the 84th minute with the score tied at 3-3. The venerable master was the recipient of the largest cheer of the night, save for the goals scored by the Wizards.
The midfielder didn't waste time in getting involved in the attack serving up three late chances with dangerous balls into the box but none resulted in a shot on goal.
Even though the first strikes, near first strikes, and faces in new and familiar spots didn't add up to complete success for the struggling Wizards, Zotinca believes a breakthrough of substantial proportions is on the horizon.
"I like to look forward. I think everything is going to look good for us as soon as we pull a win from somebody," he said. "We're going to get on the right track; we're not too far away."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.