Although the implications of the 2-0 loss in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series are real and significant, the Kansas City Wizards are not despondent as they face this Saturday's return match against the San Jose Earthquakes at Arrowhead Stadium. Typically, they are together.
"We all bellied up and said, 'Hey, it could have been better; it should have been better, and it's got to be better," said center back Nick Garcia. "I think it's [now] a mood of 'Hey, let's get this behind us -- we've got business to take care of. Just because we had one bad performance, let's not make it two bad performances at the end of our season.' I think everybody's got the right attitude."
Garcia was involved in the play in Saturday's loss that ultimately typified the Wizards fate on the day -- Dwayne De Rosario's fortunate goal in the 40th minute in which the Canadian international scored on an intended cross from the corner to the right of Wizards' goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi. The cross slightly deflected off of Garcia's leg and found its way over Oshoniyi and into the far corner of the net.
"After that I kind of looked at Bo and said, 'Bo, there's nothing you could have done, nothing I could have done.' I took De Rosario almost all the way to the touchline," Garcia said. "I don't care if it's (Ruud) Van Nistelrooy or anybody, that stuff's going to happen, and there's nothing you can do. I didn't feel bad after the goal; I didn't feel like it was my fault. And I don't think anybody else had that mindset either. They got a lucky one, let's go get it back."
Still, a second goal after the break made the Wizards task even tougher -- something that greatly sunk in the locker room at Spartan Stadium once the 90 minutes were complete.
"It was a pretty somber place [with] a mood of disappointment, a mood of lackluster performances," Garcia said.
Getting back the two-goal deficit in the aggregate goal series will not be easy facing a San Jose team, when playing its best, can hold possession as well as any team in the league. But in Bob Gansler's four full years as head coach in Kansas City, the Wizards have been strong at home in the playoffs.
"We have been in a similar position before in the 2000 playoffs [facing Los Angeles at Arrowhead down three points to two in a first to four points series], so I don't think there's any sense of 'oh, no, the house is on fire. What are we going to do?' I think it's more of a 'let's get back to ourselves of old,'" Garcia said. "We've done extremely well in the playoffs at home. I think we've scored 12 goals and only given up one [15 goals for, three against in the last four years]. Our home record in the playoffs [six wins and one tie over the same period] speaks for itself; we just need to add to that."
Garcia and company will have to play one of their best matches of the year come Saturday evening. And Garcia believes the task is doable.
"Obviously, we'd like to be in a better position, but that's not the case. And I think we realize that. We're in this game to win, so by no means are we over and done with."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.