It's not often a team holds their opponent to no shots on goal. But the Kansas City Wizards did it for only the second time in their history Saturday night in a 2-0 win against Toronto FC.
April 13, 1996 -- the Wizards' inaugural game as an original member of Major League Soccer -- is how far one has to go back for the last time their opponent was unable to get off a shot on goal. That fact alone reveals the work put in by the Wizards on the victory.
"Wow. That shows that we had a very good defensive effort," said Wizards head coach Curt Onalfo, a bit taken aback by the news.
Surely the team's defense was strong on the night, especially considering the varied weapons that Toronto brings. Onalfo singled out Jack Jewsbury for his "rock solid" play in the center of midfield as key, but the defensive effort tells only part of the story of a win that puts the Wizards in the thick of the wild card race.
The tireless work of Herculez Gomez on the right wing, the everywhere presence of forward Josh Wolff, and a productive cameo by Kevin Souter rounded out the plot.
After a slow start, the attack began to pour forward during the final 10 minutes of the first half, but many were wondering if Kansas City would pay for their missed opportunities. Most of those chances were created by Wolff who popped up in many advantageous spots throughout the match.
Wolff continued his work as the Wizards onslaught rolled into the second half. Wolff entered the Toronto box in the 61st minute and ran onto a Roger Espinoza pass on the right edge of the six-yard box where he went to the ground in colliding with defender Tyrone Marshall and goalkeeper Greg Sutton. Referee Baldomero Toledo blew the whistle for a penalty kick, and the Wizards had won their biggest chance of the night.
With an opportunity to erase any grief over missed chances, Jewsbury made no mistake as he rifled the ball past Sutton and into the right side of the net.
"He guessed the right way, but I knew once I picked my corner, I was going to bang it as hard as I could," said Jewsbury, who had seen Sutton go to his left in previous highlights.
"The guy came in from behind and got a piece of me. We got a penalty out of it," said Wolff. "Jack did well to finish it, and we were a little fortunate on the other one."P But it was more smart hard work that made the fortunate happen for a two-goal advantage.
Souter entered only his second match of the season after earning a contract with Kansas City from a February open tryout, and gave the Wizards a welcome cushion.
Once again Wolff played a part as his cross found Souter cutting his marker in the middle of the box. Just trying to make a difference, Souter's effort paid off as he struck the ball off the defender.
"I got a good toe on it. It hit his head and looped up and over [goalkeeper Sutton]. Regardless, I put the guy under pressure, and it was enough to get him to make a decision," he said.
"Fortunate bounce or not, Souter put himself in a good situation," said Jewsbury.
The well-earned win keeps the Wizards within one victory of snatching one of the two wildcard playoff berths.
"We seem to be moving in the right direction, we got a little roll going," said Souter. "So, hopefully, going on the road next week, we can carry on."
Bob Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.