KANSAS CITY, Mo. - From the offensive side to the defensive side of the ball to the referees, the Kansas City Wizards feel an increase in attention to detail would have resulted in a more favorable outcome than their 1-1 deadlock with D.C. United on Wednesday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Things looked good early as the Wizards gained an early corner and three shots before United mustered their first in the 20th minute.
Of the three chances, the last was the hardest to swallow as Kerry Zavagnin put right midfielder Chris Klein behind D.C. defender John Wilson in the 22nd minute. Klein's low cross from the right beat goalkeeper Nick Rimando and, shockingly, Klein's mates Sasha Victorine and Davy Arnaud charging in mid-goal and at the back post.
"You don't see that too often," Klein said. "But it's part of the game."
From that point on, the Wizards lost their advantage in ball possession but still managed eight more shots. But when opportunity knocked for D.C., however, they crashed open the door - even if it was a questionable storming.
Winger Josh Gros received a ball just inside the Wizards half in the 44th minute and continued unmolested into the Kansas City area. Center back Nick Garcia was certain Gros was initially in an offside position.
"From what I remember, I was on the offensive side of their half. Gros was on our half by at least two steps, and he was behind everybody on our team. That's what I saw. I haven't seen the replay, but from my angle, I thought he was offside," said Garcia. "That's what I was doing asking the referee. He couldn't tell me who kept him on."
The play went on to produce more misfortune as Gros' attempt at goal struck the bottom of Garcia's boot, throwing off his 'keeper.
"I was shuffling over to make the save, and then it hit the bottom of Nick's foot and throws off my timing a bit," said Bo Oshoniyi. "And then it goes under my foot when I was trying to make a kick save on it, which is unfortunate."
Kansas City head coach Bob Gansler preferred to focus on what wasn't done from the Wizards perspective.
"We were trying to jam the ball in [offensively]. We had too many guys in front of the ball, and then we don't transition," he said. "The people who are responsible know; it's not about pointing fingers. We're humans and therefore imperfect."
Needing a goal to have a chance at full redemption, the Wizards struggled to orchestrate a smooth, consistent attack during the remainder of the match - a fact not lost on anyone in the locker room.
"I think we let them back in the game. Our crappy concentration - we're still lackluster on possessing the ball. There were too many easy giveaways on our half," said Garcia. "We had them on their heels, and [the lack of] that pass, that lack of movement, took us out of our rhythm, and we couldn't keep the pressure on them."
Thanks to one who is executing fairly regularly lately, the Wizards rescued a point. Scott Sealy scored his third goal in two matches with a poacher's goal in the 59th minute as he cleaned up the rebound off D.C. netminder Nick Rimando from a Victorine shot. Sealy's fifth tally of the season set a new Wizards record for goals by a rookie.
The goal made the end result a matter of what could have been for the Wizards, who now have four ties and a loss at home to go with five wins.
"We need to execute, especially at home we need to score more than one goal regardless of who we play," Gansler said. "I trust that the guys in that room and in this room are on the same wavelength on that, and I think we are."
Klein affirmed his coach's hunch.
"With a little bit of execution, I think we win," he said. "We feel like we gave away two [points]. Not to take anything away from D.C., but we should finish them here at home."
And with the one point gained, two points were lost by the Wizards, as well as an opportunity to gain a distinct advantage in the tiebreaker with their Eastern Conference rival. Asked what could make the difference if the two sides should meet in the postseason, Sealy, too, sounded the refrain.
"[The difference is] execution. We create chances going forward, we're just not able to execute right now," he said. "Defensively, there are one or two lapses that always allow them into the game. They have a very good attack, and if we give them sloppy chances, they are going to take them."
The Wizards will now head to Columbus to take on the Crew before the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday, July 30.
"We've got another game going into the All-Star break, that's a game we need three points," Sealy said.
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.