Kansas City Wizards head coach Bob Gansler was concerned with how his team would react from the last-minute loss to FC Dallas a week ago. Saturday night in Columbus, despite the Crew having the better of the play, the Wizards managed to grit out a 1-0 victory against their hosts and move back atop the Eastern Conference.
For the first 30 minutes of the match the Wizards dominated, controlling possession and creating more chances. But a young and improving Crew battled back, threatening on numerous occasions in the latter portion of the first half and throughout most of the second.
But it only took one movement, finished off by one shot from Josh Wolff, to shape the outcome of Saturday's match.
"[Crew head coach] Sigi [Schmid] and I have locked horns for about eight years, and very seldom is it decided by more than one goal," said Gansler.
In the 74th minute of the match, during a brief lapse in the Crew's second-half onslaught, midfielder Sasha Victorine and Wolff teamed up to beat the Crew backline and 'keeper Jon Busch for the match's only goal.
"Jack (Jewsbury) played Sash through on a great ball and I just came late and Sash was able to hear me coming," Wolff said of his first goal of the season. "One of those little lay-ups that get you nervous but you just have to concentrate to tucking it in."
The win was as important as any for the Wizards in the early season. After Sunday's devastating loss to Dallas in second-half stoppage time, the team's attitude upon entering the match was clearly an issue.
"We had a good week of training. We coaches are like mothers -- we get too concerned when things are not going optimal, and this week I was concerned," Gansler said. "I didn't know how we'd be able to continue. I'm proud of the way we responded."
While the victory gives the Wizards 12 points on the season, two ahead of D.C. United atop the East, Gansler wasn't concerned about the team's placement in the standings.
"Let's see -- there's 27 games to go. ... Ask me in 27," he said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint."
Still, Wolff said any victories at all in April still have meaning come playoff time.
"It's critical. It's important to get the wins early in the season," he said. "Four wins in the first five is obviously pretty good."
Kansas City will seek to maintain their hold on the division lead next week, when they take on the Chicago Fire at Arrowhead Stadium.
Ryan D. Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.