The Kansas City Wizards dominated Chivas USA for much of the second half of their match Saturday night at The Home Depot Center.
The Wizards were the aggressor and forced Chivas USA back on their heels, limiting their chances to counterattacks. The final 45 minutes were capped by a tremendous bicycle kick goal from Josh Wolff.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, however, the second half followed a poor first one that saw ex-Wizards midfielder Sasha Victorine set up a goal and score one of his own to lead Chivas USA to a 2-1 win and keep the Wizards on the outside of the close Eastern Conference playoff race.
"It was a poorly played first half but in the second we made some adjustments, we switched to a 3-4-3 formation and we were the better team," said Wizards coach Curt Onalfo. "The team showed enormous heart but we fell a little short."
Victorine set up Alecko Eskandarian for a goal midway through the first half before firing a shot past Kevin Hartman in the waning moments of the half to put the Wizards in a 2-0 hole.
Victorine -- who was traded by the Wizards to Chivas USA two weeks ago for allocation money -- proved to be the difference-maker in the match.
"Anytime there's a trade, the first time that player plays against his former team they have a little extra bounce in their step," said Onalfo. "He had a good performance."
The Wizards came out with a more aggressive attitude in the second half and they were rewarded in the 70th minute when Wolff scored on an overhead kick from six yards out.
"It was a broken play," Wolff said. "The ball came loose and I just tried a little kick and it went in. The goal gave us hope and energy and we had plenty of time but we didn't do enough. We didn't pull off the final pass or the final play at the right moment."
Ultimately, what sank the Wizards was the poor first-half performance.
"Giving up an early goal has been a recipe for disaster for us," said Wolff. "It's something we have to be aware of but in the last six games we've given up a lot of first-half goals and it forces us to chase the game."
The result keeps the Wizards at the doorstep of the final playoff spot in the conference with only four games left. Fortunately for them, though, three of those matches will be played at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The road has been unkind to the Wizards, to say the least, as their road winless streak was extended to 13 matches.
"Our destiny is in our hands with three games at home," said Onalfo. "We can't worry about this game, it's over and done with. It's going to take nine points to get into the playoffs. It's not an easy task but we're up to the challenge."
Added Wolff: "Three of our last four are at home so we're pretty excited about that, but it doesn't mean anything unless we get three points in those games."
Despite the rapidly closing playoff window, the Wizards don't feel any added pressure as they enter the final regular season stretch.
"There's pressure on every team until you clinch a playoff spot," said Wolff.
Herculez Gomez sees the only pressure coming from within.
"The only pressure there is for us is the pressure we put on ourselves," he said.
Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.