KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Fans coming into Arrowhead Stadium this Saturday may want to bring a siphoning tube with them to harvest the energy that will emanate from coach Bob Gansler's charges as they take on FC Dallas on Saturday evening. For the action had better be fast and furious if the Wizards want to avoid the fatal wrath strikers Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz, as well as midfielders Ronnie O'Brien and Richard Mulrooney, can bring down on them.
"We've got to be as good as we were last week on defense, and we've got to be a heck of a lot more active and more productive offensively. I didn't have to say that to the guys, I won't have to say that to the guys." Gansler said on last week's scoreless tie with D.C. United.
Saturday will mark the second weekend in succession the Wizards are at home and the first of three times they will be in May. To a man, the Wizards say it's time to play like the home team, not the team that relinquished control of the tempo to D.C.
"We want to get out at [FC Dallas] a little bit more, rather than [like we did against United] let them play their style of game and slow the game's momentum down," said right back Sasha Victorine, who should return to the lineup Saturday.
Since Dallas possesses formidable weapons all over the field, plus center back Greg Vanney, the Wizards forwards (Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud) will be expected to pressure the defenders, while the midfield - especially the central midfield - will have to keep a tight reign on O'Brien, who has tended to be more of a third forward at times. The back line must be a nuisance and not allow the strikers to turn or get good shots, while the midfield will also have to pressurize Mulrooney and not allow easy balls into Johnson and Ruiz.
"Our job as a defense is to limit them as much as possible, but on the return of that, we feel confident that we can attack them, especially being at home; these are the games where we need to get out there and press these teams, put them under pressure," Victorine said.
Team captain Diego Gutierrez is usually a big part of the Wizards execution on both sides of the ball, but a bone spur on his left patella will keep him out of the lineup for as much as eight weeks. Gutierrez underwent surgery Friday to clean out the spur and also repair a slight tear in the lateral meniscus in the knee.
His replacement will have a large task in front of him in helping to take the game to FC Dallas. Candidates include Jack Jewsbury, Diego Walsh, Alex Zotinca and Preki - as well as Victorine. Preki's insertion would probably require a change in formation, but Zotinca would bring the work rate and mindset Victorine and Gansler have preached.
The Romanian-born right-sided player might have been Coach Bob Gansler's poster boy this week for his persistence in the attack against United.
"For sure, the first half, Alex had the run of the turf," said Gansler.
Zotinca let loose two shots, each missing their mark rolling just beyond the far post. If he sees time either as the starting right back or in the center of midfield, where he personally feels he is best suited, Zotinca will be asked to involve himself similarly as before and to be on the mark.
Whatever the lineup, the Kansas City Wizards will leave their energy on the field. The goal is to find the effort that will pressure FC Dallas into mistakes and allow the Wizards to achieve the balance and consistency they have been missing.
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.