In front of the largest crowd of the season at a sweltering Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Wizards and Real Salt Lake had a fast and furious first half, combining for five goals before settling down a little bit as the home side escaped 3-2 victors.
The victory improved the Wizards' win total to seven -- matching their number of ties on the season -- and gave them only their second set of back-to-back victories for 2005, while Real Salt Lake saw their winless streak reach 11 games in all competitions.
The Wizards gave a glimpse of what was to come as they wasted no time attacking from the kickoff and driving down to threaten D.J. Countess's goal with a Chris Klein cross from the right flank that was headed away at the last instant from a waiting Preki at the far post.
Continued possession paid off for the home side only seven minutes later as right back Brian Roberts overlapped Klein on the right to receive a pass deep into the right corner. Roberts cut back with his right to ease past Salt Lake defender Brian Kamler enabling him to get off a left-footed shot that beat Countess, but banged off the post to a well-positioned Scott Sealy who deposited his third goal of his rookie season into the unguarded net.
But Real did not hang their heads as could be expected from a team that came in with the lowest ranked offense in MLS and a nine-game MLS winless streak. Instead they used some Kansas City technical slip-ups to even the match in the 10th minute.
Right midfielder and former Wizards member Chris Brown took down a long pass from the midfield, took advantage of a slipping Jose Burciaga Jr. to glide down the wing, and easily cut past an over-committing Shavar Thomas to left foot a shot past rooted K.C. goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi at his near post.
Brown's first marker of the season left Wizards coach Bob Gansler shaking his head at his side's naivety, but the next goal would cause more questions from all concerned.
Battling Thomas for a corner kick flighted to the edge of his six-yard box, Countess inadvertently directed the ball toward his own net with his waving left hand. Defender Kenny Cutler and a host of Real players tried to clear the ball off the line, but they were late as the referee's assistant raised his flag to signal that the ball had cleared the goal line, despite heated protests from Real.
Wanting to increase their advantage, the Wizards and Preki fought for a third goal eight minutes later. After fending off three tackles as he meandered through Real's box, the venerable Preki shuffled the ball to Sealy who slipped by Brown to hit a low shot that left Countess helpless.
The opportunities flowed in bunches still as the half lengthened with Real's Kreis, on a free kick 23 yards out, and the Wizards' Davy Arnaud and Thomas having strong chances to add to the scoreline.
It wouldn't be until the 44th minute that Real's hopes would be resurrected as yet another Salt Lake player would hit goal for the first time this season. This time second-year striker Jordan Cila outleaped K.C. center back Nick Garcia at the top of six-yard box and nodded home a Luke Kreamalmeyer cross from the left corner past an astonished Oshoniyi and into the far corner of his net.
After resting and reloading, the two sides came out hungry for more after the halftime break. Gansler decided to take off Preki after the opening 45 minutes, Jack Jewsbury moving to a wide role in midfield as Arnaud moved forward to partner Sealy in attack.
In minute 47, Kansas City's Burciaga Jr. broke through two defenders on the left side of the Salt Lake box and whipped a low cross past Nelson Akwari that a sliding Arnaud just missed putting away at the back post.
In spite of his earlier flub, Countess was resolute in the net for the guests as he continually turned aside chances. The 60th minute saw the fourth-year MLS goalkeeper lay on the pitch for an extended period after dousing a Klein attempt on goal at Countess's left post. However, the 23-year-old was able to stay in the match.
In the 67th minute, Salt Lake coach John Ellinger had to be wondering if his team was trying to give the match away. Real players repeatedly failed to clear the ball out of danger as Jewsbury, Arnaud, Sealy and finally midfielder Sasha Victorine put attempts towards goal, with Victorine's shot ringing off the far post.
The match remained in doubt for the Wizards who maintained control but allowed a couple of set pieces, including a Jason Kreis opportunity in the 88th minute that the league's all-time leader in goals blistered right at Oshoniyi.
After three minutes of stoppage time, which included a point-blank Kreamalmeyer chance at the left post, the whistle blew and the Wizards had extended Real's misery and given themselves another three points in their battle to keep pace with the New England Revolution and the Chicago Fire.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Scott Sealy (Kansas City Wizards)
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Real Salt Lake (3-11-4) vs. Kansas City Wizards (7-4-7)
July 16, 2005 -- Arrowhead Stadium
KC -- Scott Sealy 3 (unassisted) 8
RSL -- Chris Brown 1 (Jason Kreis 2) 10
KC -- own goal (D.J. Countess) 18
KC -- Scott Sealy 4 (Preki 1) 27
RSL -- Jordan Cila 1 (Luke Kreamalmeyer 1) 44
Real Salt Lake -- D.J. Countess, Michael Lookingland, Brian Dunseth, Brian Kamler (Luke Kreamalmeyer 34), Nelson Akwari, Seth Trembly, Kenny Cutler, Jason Kreis, Chris Brown, Clint Mathis (Jamie Watson 56), Jordan Cila (Paul Broome 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Leslie Fitzpatrick, Jay Nolly.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Seth Trembly 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (5 tied with 1); FOULS: 14 (Kenny Cutler 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Jordan Cila 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Luke Kreamalmeyer 2, Clint Mathis 2); SAVES: 7 (D.J. Countess 7)
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Shavar Thomas, Nick Garcia, Brian Roberts (Ryan Raybould 79), Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Preki (Jack Jewsbury 46), Scott Sealy, Davy Arnaud (Ryan Pore 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Dustin Branan, Daniel Dobson, Will Hesmer, Douglas Lascody, Pat McGinnis, John Minagawa-Webster.
TOTAL SHOTS: 22 (Davy Arnaud 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Davy Arnaud 3, Scott Sealy 3); FOULS: 12 (Kerry Zavagnin 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Davy Arnaud 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 4); SAVES: 3 (Bo Oshoniyi 3)
KC -- Brian Roberts (caution; Pushing, Holding) 74
RSL -- Paul Broome (caution; Dissent) 75
RSL -- Brian Dunseth (caution; Professional Foul) 80
KC -- Jose Burciaga Jr. (caution; Reckless Foul) 83
RSL -- Kenny Cutler (caution; Reckless Foul) 89
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Robert Fereday; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Brent Sorg
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-92-degrees
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.