Wizards attack not just a duo
A year ago, if teams wanted to keep the Kansas City Wizards from scoring goals, they simply needed to apply the solution D.C. United did in winning the 2004 MLS Cup Final -- cut off the service to frontrunners Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff.
But a year later, the answer is no longer so elementary.
"One of the things we talked about going into the season was having more people step up in terms of goal production," said Wizards' boss Bob Gansler. "So it's good that we got Chris [Klein] back and Jack [Jewsbury] pitching in. The fact that our opponents can't just focus on Josh and Davy and figure they will have things done is looking all right."
Both Klein and Jewsbury, playing as wide midfielders, contributed a goal in each of Kansas City's first two matches and are posting notice that whether it's central or wide, on the counter or in combination, fine finishes or garbage pickups, the Wizards can hurt you.
Both of Jewsbury's tallies have seen him in advantageous positions while displaying the polish of a natural scorer. Last Saturday's goal against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium came off a deflected shot taken by Arnaud that came down to the right of goal just inside the six-yard box.
"It was up in the air. I didn't really know where I was too much. I just wanted to get a good strike on it and hopefully get it on frame," said Jewsbury. "I'm just trying to hit the frame on those shots. Luckily I did that, and it found an opening and went in."
Jewsbury's knack for the right touch in front of goal was nurtured throughout his high school and college careers when he played forward, scoring an outlandish 59 goals his senior year in high school and earning 101 career points, including 38 goals, at Saint Louis University, good for 10th on the all-time list at the traditional collegiate power.
To Gansler, touch is paramount for goal-scoring prowess, and it doesn't often develop quickly.
"When [Jack] does have an opportunity to shoot, he's the kind of guy who puts it on the frame, on the sticks. That's something that we talk about in practice and try to rehearse," he said. "We don't call it shooting; we call it finishing. In order for you to finish, you have to give it a chance. You often have to sacrifice power for accuracy and you have to find a way to get it past any or all obstacles. Both of the goals that he has scored so far this season have not been howitzers, they've just been a good piece of finishing in terms of putting it where they can't save it. As a rule, these things don't come overnight."
For his second goal of the season, Klein's shot was placed well as it buzzed over the head of MetroStars goalkeeper Zach Wells into the roof of the net from nearly the same spot Jewsbury connected. But it was the four passes, began by center back Nick Garcia, between four players that allowed Klein to burst through with the ball that also showed why Kansas City has scored five goals in two contests.
"The overall play was very good combination play by us. And when we do that, we are difficult to stop," said Klein. "It was a good ball in by Alex and a good layoff by Josh. That's the key to us, when Josh and Davy are holding the ball well and playing like they are right now, it makes it a lot easier on us."
Over his seven-year MLS career Klein usually has a similar amount of assists and goals. But he's the one currently enjoying being the beneficiary of strong play from his teammates.
"I would imagine, if at the end of the year, I lead our team in goals, maybe there's something wrong. But with the way we play, I definitely get opportunities to score goals and to set guys up -- you help as many times as you are helped. That's a goal for us," the St. Louis native stated. "We have very good forwards, and when I have the opportunity to set them up, I would like to do that. It's just the way the first two games have gone.
"Josh and Davy open up a lot of holes and that gives opportunities for guys like me and Jack to run into," he continued. "We have a lot of weapons, a lot of guys that can score goals, and a lot of guys that can make good passes. I don't think we're looking to stop this year."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its club.