The Kansas City Wizards rolled into the Nation's Capital desperate for a result, sporting a league-high seven draws and only one win in their last seven outings. They got exactly that Saturday at RFK Stadium, lulling D.C. United to sleep through nearly 80 minutes before dealing the home side a fatal blow and holding on for a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Sasha Victorine capitalized on a poor United pass before racing forward and letting fly with a blast from outside the D.C. penalty area that slipped past the dive of Nick Rimando for the game's only goal, then the Wizards held on for their first league win at RFK Stadium since the inaugural season of 1996, a span of 11 matches without victory against United in Washington.
United had the lion's share of the attack early on, but K.C. goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi was able to intercept several crosses and get in front of a handful of chances, including a breathtaking run by United youngster Freddy Adu in the 15th minute that had the crowd on its feet.
Adu received the ball with space on the left side, just past the halfway line, and carried it into the final third before using a deft touch to get around a sliding Shavar Thomas at the edge of the box. After cutting around a rapidly approaching Nick Garcia he had a clear look at goal, but put it right at Oshoniyi.
The Wizards' best opportunity in the game's first half hour came in the 24th minute, when rookie striker Scott Sealy collected a ball chested down to his feet and struck a low screamer from 20 yards out. Rimando covered up without any problem. A minute later fellow striker Davy Arnaud made a piercing run through the left side of the box, but his touch failed him as he tried to hold off a defender and Rimando came out to take away possession.
Kansas City strung passes together in the midfield fairly well throughout the first frame, but was largely unable to get in behind the United backline and muster any legitimate chances. A foul on a streaking Adu in the 31st minute set up a curling Christian Gomez free kick from the left corner of the penalty box, but a well-positioned Oshoniyi was again there.
The United faithful showed their displeasure in the 38th minute, as Adu played a perfect ball into his midfield mate Dema Kovalenko, who carried the ball deep into the box. But Wizards defensive anchor Garcia showed impressive closing speed, leaving his feet to make a sliding tackle from behind at the 6-yard box -- and came away with the ball as referee Michael Kennedy kept his whistle at his side.
As the first half expired, Arnaud found Jack Jewsbury on the left side of the box, and Jewsbury's strike on goal was turned away by an outstretched Rimando. The rebound was collected by Chris Klein, whose one-timer from just outside the box sailed well over the frame.
United started the stronger in the second half, shutting down the few Kansas City attacks while getting forward dangerously in transition. A sudden surge forward in the 52nd minute ended with a forceful left-footed rip by Adu that traveled high and wide.
United created another surprise opportunity in the 63rd minute when Kovalenko was played a short ball into the right side of the area on a quick restart. The high cross was headed for goal and nearly caught Oshoniyi off guard, but the goalie was barely able to get a hand on it and deflect it away as he backpedaled perilously close to the goal line. Oshoniyi was again in position only a few minutes later when he pounced on a point-blank Gomez header.
United controlled more of the play but were unable to convert, yet the Wizards knew the longer the score would stay level, they had a chance to come away with not just one, but three, points on the road. Wizards head coach Bob Gansler looked to jumpstart his stagnant offense by inserting MLS veteran Preki for Jewsbury in the 71st minute.
The move paid dividends only six minutes later, when Victorine found himself the lucky recipient of an errant Brian Carroll pass, carried the ball just outside the penalty box, took a quick look at goal, and drove a low left-footed shot into the right corner past the fingertips of an outstretched Rimando. The decisive finish was Victorine's fourth goal of the season.
The Wizards survived some scary moments in the 86th minute, when a corner kick found a United head and bounced off the left post after beating Oshoniyi. In a hectic melee, the ball caromed out to second half substitute Jason Thompson, whose return attempt was headed for the back of the net were it not headed away by Wizards defender Jose Burciaga Jr. standing on the goal line.
Gansler's team held on in the waning minutes to claim a first regular season victory in RFK Stadium since Aug. 4, 1996 (the Wizards did win the 2000 MLS Cup Final in the stadium), and move ahead of United in the Eastern Conference standings, claiming sole possession of third place.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Bo Oshoniyi (Kansas City Wizards)
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 (6-4-7) vs. D.C. United (6-6-4)
July 09, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
KC -- Sasha Victorine 4 (unassisted) 77
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Jack Jewsbury (Preki 71), Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein (Brian Roberts 80), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine, Davy Arnaud, Scott Sealy.
Substitutes Not Used: Dustin Branan, Will Hesmer, Ryan Pore.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Scott Sealy 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Scott Sealy 2); FOULS: 11 (Kerry Zavagnin 4); OFFSIDES: 6 (Davy Arnaud 2, Scott Sealy 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Chris Klein 1, Preki 1); SAVES: 7 (Bo Oshoniyi 7)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Brandon Prideaux (David Stokes 84), Bobby Boswell, John Wilson, Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Clyde Simms (Matt Nickell 80), Joshua Gros, Freddy Adu, Jamil Walker (Nana Kuffour 59).
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Guppy, Shawn Kuykendall, Jaime Moreno, Troy Perkins, Jason Thompson, Andrew Weber.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Christian Gomez 4, Dema Kovalenko 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Freddy Adu 2, Christian Gomez 2); FOULS: 16 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Freddy Adu 3, Christian Gomez 3); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
DC -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Professional Foul) 78
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Thomas Supple; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Kenneth Kaplan
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.