Wizards suffer 2-1 loss to Saprissa in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - The Kansas City Wizards suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss to Saprissa in extra time in the second leg of their Champions Cup series in San Jose, Costa Rica Thursday night. After taking the lead in the 75th minute, the Wizards came within minutes of sealing the victory, only to see Saprissa tie the score with a goal two minutes into stoppage time. Saprissa would then net the game-winner during the 30-minute extra time period, eliminating the Wizards from the Champions Cup tournament on a 2-1 aggregate goal margin.

An extremely vocal and vibrant crowd, donning the purple and white of Saprissa welcomed the Wizards to Costa Rica and provided an exciting atmosphere, chanting song after song for the entire 120 minutes of play. The Wizards put up a valiant effort despite playing in just their second meaningful game in four months.

The match opened with a rapid pace with both teams playing physical from the start trying to put their stamp on the match early. The Wizards appeared to grab the momentum early, but would surrender it mid-way though the opening stanza. Neither side was able to make the final pass and therefore neither side had many opportunities early on.

The best chance for either side came in the 32nd minute when Saprissa forward Ronald Gomez unloaded a diagonal shot from outside the top of the box, only to watch it curl wide left of its mark.

The second half saw different tactics for both teams as the game opened up and both sides were creating opportunities in front of the opposing goal.

Kansas City was gifted by the poor finishing of Saprissa's Ronald Gomez who missed wide open looks at the goal on several occasions. After putting his first two shots wide of the goal, he missed an embarrassing shot in the 70th minute. Drawing the entire Wizards defense to the left side of the box, Saprissa midfielder Walter Centano slipped a ball into the middle of the box where Gomez was positioned just seven yards from goal with no Wizards players to be seen. Gomez faced only Bo Oshoniyi between the pipes in front of him. Gomez had time to settle the ball and strike a left-footed attempt, but he chipped the ball more then 10 yards over the crossbar, a shot that would had made NFL kickers drool with envy.

Gomez would have a chance to redeem himself a minute later with a wicked strike towards the right post, but Bo Oshoniyi made a tremendous diving stab to direct the ball into the post. The ball made a dangerous quiver back in front of Oshoniyi, but as he fell to the ground from his initial lunge, he managed to stick a foot in the air and deflect the ball back into play were the Wizards defense cleared.

The Wizards would strike gold in the 75th minute after Kerry Zavagnin drew a foul some 24 yards from goal. Diego Gutierrez took the freekick and lightly tapped the ball to his left where Jose Burciaga made an overlapping run and struck the ball hard towards the left post, evading the reach of goalkeeper Jose Porras and settling in the back of the net.

Kansas City tried shutting the door in the dying minutes controlling possession and killing the clock. But in the second and final minute of stoppage time, Saprissa scored a surprising goal and tied the game. Former MetroStars forward Pablo Brenes took a hard shot on goal from the right that Bo Oshoniyi managed to get a glove on and pushed in to his left, but the ball did not go far as it settled in front of the goal. Saprissa forward Gerrold Drummond was there to collect the loose ball and score the empty net goal.

Seven minutes into the extra time period, Drummond scored again, this time chipping a shot over Wizards defender Nick Garcia and Bo Oshoniyi who were closing in just 12 yards from goal.

The Wizards had two great chances to tie the game later in the extra time period, but were unable to get the equalizing goal. In the 111th minute, Alex Zotinca sent a perfect curling cross into the box from the right side. Davy Arnaud made a perfectly timed diving header, but pushed his shot just inches wide of the right piece. In the 117th minute, Chris Klein hit the crossbar on a freekick. Saprissa would hang on for the final minutes sending the Wizards to a 2-1 defeat.

The Wizards will open the 2005 regular season on Saturday, April 2nd when they host the Colorado Rapids at Arrowhead Stadium with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. CT. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 816-931-3330 or in person at any Ticketmaster Outlet throughout the Kansas City area.

		        1       2       ET      F 
Kansas City Wizards     0       1       0       1 
Deportivo Saprissa      0       1       1       2 

Kansas City Wizards Lineup (4-4-2):
Bo Oshoniyi-GK; Sasha Victorine, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Luis Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein, Diego Gutierrez (Alex Zotinca-83'), Kerry Zavagnin, Khari Stephenson (Diego Walsh-46', Jack Jewsbury-106'); Josh Wolff Davy Arnaud

Deportivo Saprissa Lineup (3-5-2):
Jose Francisco Porras-GK; Jervis Drummond, Ronald Gonzales, Gabriel Badilla; Andres Nunez, Walter Centeno (Alonso Solis-75'), Ronald Gomez, Jose Luis Lopez, Juan Esquivel; Christian Carrillo (Pablo Brenes-53'), Erick Corrales (Gerrold Drummond-59')

KC- Sasha Victorine (Professional Foul) 24'
SAP- Ronald Gonzalez (Reckless foul) 47'
SAP- Ronald Gomez (Diving) 60'
SAP- Kerry Zavagnin (Professional foul) 86'
KC- Bo Oshoniyi (Delaying a restart) 89'


Post Game Quotes:
Kansas City Wizards Head Coach Bob Gansler on the result:
"It was an awfully good performance for so early in the season. We did pretty much what we felt we needed to do in terms of not sitting back and sucking up the pressure, but going at them as well. I think our guys put on a tremendous performance for so early in the season. As I told after the game, they have every right to be proud of the 120 minutes and we will build on this."