Wizards crave advantage at home

After a third consecutive victory on the road, a 4-2 win against Real Salt Lake on Aug. 13, the Kansas City Wizards were likely salivating over a schedule that listed six of their remaining nine games at home.

They might now want to go back on the road, after dropping a second successive home match by 1-0, this time to the MetroStars on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The loss means the Wizards have six home victories, the second-fewest amount in the tight Eastern Conference. Their five road victories are second-most, as are their 20 points from 14 road games.

"We have to start winning at home. What's the use of a good road record if we can't win at home?" said defender Jose Burciaga Jr.

The loss didn't come from a lack of on-field creation or effort. The league's top offense coming into the game produced 17 shots at former teammate Tony Meola's goal, with seven on frame -- all too familiar figures echoing a 1-0 loss at the hands of Columbus two weeks ago.

"We had enough chances to put away; you have to execute. It's coming down to playoff time," Burciaga said.

Burciaga was not alone in his loss for an answer on the night.

"In two games we have zero goals at home. That can't happen. We talked before the game that you have to win home games if you are going to be successful in this league," said midfielder Chris Klein. "For some reason we haven't done that this year. That's something we have to figure out."

Klein's 18th-minute drive from a Scott Sealy pass back forced his friend Meola to dive to his left for the save, perhaps his best of the game.

"He made one good save on me and a couple other good saves. He was solid tonight," Klein said. "You've got to put more on goal and put them where he has to make saves in the corners. When we did that, he came up with some good saves."

Sealy contributed another drop back for strike partner Wolff in the 42nd minute that Wolff controlled and then brushed the outside of the left post with his shot.

The chance came six minutes before the MetroStars would break the ice with an Eddie Gaven shot off a similar pass from back Tim Ward. Gaven's goal deflected off of an unaware Sasha Victorine leaving a previously well-positioned Bo Oshoniyi on the wrong side of the Wizards goal.

"A couple of times we hit people [with our shots.] It's ironic that the only goal of the game was one that bounces off one of our players. It can be a cruel game -- the better side doesn't always win," said K.C. head coach Bob Gansler. "You've got to give [the MetroStars] credit for being resourceful and coming in here and getting three points no matter how it transpires."

After leaving the first half empty-handed, the Wizards' minds may have impacted their play.

"As the game wears on you wonder if you are going to get one tonight. We kept coming, we kept trying, but just came up short," Sealy said.

And even though they played the last 25 minutes up a man due after Metros defender Tim Regan was sent off for two yellow cards in three minutes, the irony increased for the Wizards as they couldn't equalize.

"It's [only] the seventh loss of the year," Gansler said. "It's ironic that we play better on the road than we do at home, especially in terms of realizing our chances."

Gansler pushed the offensive buttons by inserting Preki in the 70th minute and new acquisition Jermaine Hue in the 84th.

"The reason we put Jermaine in was to give us a little more wing play on the left side because Davy [Arnaud] is inclined to go inside. And when we've got Jose that deep [in the left back slot], he can't turn the corner and serve underneath," Gansler said. "We brought Preki in to get it going on [the right].

"We always say, 'They're going to score one. We've got to be good enough for two.' We created enough to put two in there, but it didn't happen," he continued. "More shooting practice [is needed.] By the way, we had a multitude of that all week long, so it's frustrating."

Echoing Burciaga and Klein, Gansler emphasized the importance of gaining three points at home and its importance in the coming playoffs.

"The people that we need to impress are us. We have to get our level of confidence up in our park. That's the fact. Come playoff time, you have to make hay at home," he said.

Robert Rusert 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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