The Kansas City Wizards continued their inconsistent form Saturday night, seeing Christian Gomez score goals 11 minutes apart while having a comeback of their own fall just short as D.C. United claimed a 3-2 victory at RFK Stadium in an end-to-end rematch of last year's MLS Cup Final.
The Wizards came into the match off their best performance of the campaign, a 4-0 thrashing of Columbus last weekend and featuring the most potent attack in the league. But they couldn't build on it, an own goal answering an early penalty, though Scott Sealy helped get K.C. close at the end with a late goal.
D.C. United were the aggressors early on, carrying the ball deep into Wizards territory several times in the game's first 20 minutes, and keeping K.C. 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi on his toes with a smattering of outside shots. But Oshoniyi and his back line -- inconsistent at times this young season -- kept its shape, stayed resolute, and stymied any potentially dangerous chances.
Kansas City attempted to open things up midway through the first half, stringing passes together through the midfield, and finding outside midfielder Chris Klein and Jose Burciaga, Jr. with space on the flanks. But every time a Wizards forward received a ball and looked to turn, there seemed to be a black shirt.
The home side's doggedness finally paid off in the 29th minute when when Burciaga sent United's Alecko Eskandarian to the pitch deep inside the Kansas City penalty box following a nifty series of one-touch combination passes between Eskandarian and fellow striker Jaime Moreno. Referee Gus St. Silva promptly whistled the foul and awarded the penalty kick.
Moreno, United's penalty specialist, confidently tucked the ball just over an outstretched Oshoniyi for his fourth goal of the year. It was the first time all year that the Wizards conceded the opening goal in a match.
The waning minutes of the first half saw a more open style of play, with the Wizards increasingly pushing forward and putting United on their heels. A streaking Josh Wolff found himself all alone on the right side of the field in the 41st minute, and his well-placed cross was intercepted by an airborne Nick Rimando. Then, in the 43rd minute, Wizard striker Davy Arnaud played a dangerous ball across the goul mouth to a waiting Sasha Victorine, who first-timed it on goal, forcing Rimando to make a sprawling kick save.
United appeared to be the stronger side coming out of the locker room, as Moreno drove a low line drive shot to the right of Oshoniyi in the 48th minute, but the K.C. 'keeper was able to get a toe on it and deflect it out.
But the Wizards settled in and began knocking the ball around, attempting to expose holes in the United midfield. Arnaud was able to get loose in the final third of the field several times, but was frustrated by the omnipresent United defense.
Yet Kansas City's clear focus on getting forward was eventually rewarded in the 62nd minute. Chris Klein deftly maneuvered into the box and played a low cross in front of Rimando, and United's rookie central back Bobby Boswell showed his youth when he took a bad touch and inadvertently redirected the ball into the corner of the goal for an own goal.
But it didn't take United long to again nose in front. A quick exchange on the left saw Eskandarian whip in a cross that was cleverly knocked down by Moreno between a host of Wizards defenders, and Gomez steamed in to punch it past Oshoniyi just before the two heavily collided.
With twenty minutes to go down a goal on the road, the Wizards were not going to sit back. Coach Bob Gansler, searching for a sparkplug, inserted attack-minded Jack Jewsbury for defender Alex Zotinca -- and then subbed in Preki in the 77th minute for Shavar Thomas, who made his second consecutive start in the back four.
But United was able to capitalize on the counter in the 80th minute when Freddy Adu made the most of a turnover by the Wizards in the midfield and went full speed ahead on a twisting run. Adu found Gomez on the right side of the box, who eluded a defender with a skillful cut, and then drove the ball into the lower left corner of the goal.
But the Wizards refused to go away. They managed a good opportunity for themselves in the 87th minute when a free kick taken by Klein from 19 yards out caromed off the United wall and back to Burciaga, who struck a screamer first-time and forced Rimando to make a breathtaking save.
Omar Garriott is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Kansas City Wizards (2-1-3) vs. D.C. United (2-3-2)
May 21, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
DC -- Jaime Moreno 4 (penalty kick) 29
KC -- own goal (Bobby Boswell) 62
DC -- Christian Gomez 2 (Jaime Moreno 2, Alecko Eskandarian 1) 69
DC -- Christian Gomez 3 (Freddy Adu 4) 80
KC -- Scott Sealy 2 (unassisted) 88
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Shavar Thomas (Preki 78), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Alex Zotinca (Jack Jewsbury 74), Davy Arnaud (Scott Sealy 84), Josh Wolff.
Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Brian Roberts.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Davy Arnaud 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Sasha Victorine 2); FOULS: 12 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Josh Wolff 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Chris Klein 2); SAVES: 2 (Bo Oshoniyi 2)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Ben Olsen, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez (Dema Kovalenko 87), Clyde Simms, Joshua Gros, Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu 77), Jaime Moreno (David Stokes 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Shawn Kuykendall, Tim Merritt, Troy Perkins, Mike Petke, Jason Thompson, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Christian Gomez 2, Jaime Moreno 2); FOULS: 17 (Bryan Namoff 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Jaime Moreno 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Christian Gomez 1); SAVES: 4 (Nick Rimando 4)
DC -- Bryan Namoff (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
KC -- Davy Arnaud (caution; Tackle from Behind) 66
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Pushing, Holding) 85
KC -- Preki (caution; Game Disrepute) 94+
DC -- Joshua Gros (caution; Game Disrepute) 94+
DC -- Joshua Gros (ejection; Second Caution) 94+
DC -- Freddy Adu (caution; Dissent) 96+
Referee: Gus St. Silva
Referee's Assistants: -Steven Davidson; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Ben Jones
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.