Wizards draw, now wait and see
After 75 minutes Saturday night, the Kansas City Wizards had dug a massive hole for themselves. Goals from Oscar Pareja in the 69th minute and Ramon Nuñez six minutes later had given FC Dallas a 2-0 lead at Pizza Hut Park, and left the MetroStars needing only a tie to clinch fourth place in the Eastern Conference and knock K.C. out of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
But goals from Davy Arnaud and Preki over the final 15 minutes pulled the Wizards back into a 2-2 tie and once again breathed life into their playoff chances.
"We did ourselves a huge favor getting that tie, and now (the MetroStars have) to have a result, they have to win, otherwise we go through if it's a tie or loss," said Wizards defender Nick Garcia. "We knew we had to push it and for us to go for that win, we had to. We came out with some urgency."
Chances were few over the first hour-plus of the match, but the Wizards were the ones who really wanted to get the first goal. Instead it was FC Dallas -- leaving Kansas City with a huge hill to climb in the last 15 minutes.
"We kind of started to play when we were two goals behind," said Wizards forward Antii Sumiala. "At first a lot of people thought the game was over, then we make one goal at first and then we were pushing it real hard, then we get second."
Said 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi: "It was one of those games worst-case we needed a point and we go down 2-0 and you try and make as many saves as you can. Sometimes we don't actually get going until we get down a goal or two."
One of the bright spots of the match for the home team came when retiring midfielder Preki entered the match in the 68th minute and help his team secure the tie with his second goal of the campaign in the 90th minute.
"It has been a great time -- I had a lot of fun," said Preki. "We started the play on the left side and I think Davy Arnaud flicked the ball to Josh [Wolff] and I kind of sensed the ball might come into that space. [FC Dallas goalkeeper] Garlick made a good save and luckily I was there to put it in the net."
Still, the mood of the Wizards was one of utter disappointment as the team failed to secure a playoff berth that a victory would have all but taken care of. If Kansas City had won, the MetroStars would have had to defeat Chivas USA by at least seven goals on Sunday afternoon; now, they only need win, regardless of the margin.
"We have done that time and time again," said Wizards coach Bob Gansler. "We spot the other guys two and we come back. In Chicago, we spotted them two in the first six minutes, we came back to win 3-2. That's the game I reminded our guys about.
"Today, we came back to tie the game, but that's playing with dynamite. We need to come out of the chute and score some goals and then hold it. We've had just an awful time putting FC Dallas away. The first time we played them this season, we were up on them 3-1 in Kansas City. Then, they come back. We were just too inconsistent to please ourselves."
"We came in here for three points knowing what we needed to do and we were unable to do it, so it's frustrating," added Oshoniyi.
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.