Wizards trying to stay strong on road

The Kansas City Wizards head back on the road this weekend, a place that has felt quite comfortable to the team.

The Wizards haven't lost a Major League Soccer away game since May 9, going 1-0-3 in regular season away games during that stretch. The team heads to Texas this weekend to take on FC Dallas in a game between two teams needing a win to jumpstart a run toward the playoffs.

On the surface, Kansas City (5-6-6) and FC Dallas (4-9-5) are similar -- two teams that would admit that the season has not played out to expectation thus far. A quick glace at the MLS standings shows both teams toward the bottom of their respective conferences, which is a little misleading because both teams would say they feel they have enough talent to be better in terms of record.

Well, both thought they did. Kansas City still does, but FC Dallas announced on Friday that star forward Kenny Cooper, the team's leading scorer with seven goals in 18 games, has been transferred to TSV 1860 Munich.

Cooper was tied for fifth in the league in scoring, accompanied by Jeff Cunningham's four goals. Cooper also was just named to the CONCACAF Gold Cup all-tournament team.

Wizards head coach Curt Onalfo spoke highly of the player and FC Dallas on Thursday, not knowing the team's best player would be gone before Saturday's contest.

Onalfo's thoughts on Cooper are a moot point now, but they illustrate how important he was to the Wizards upcoming opponent.

"[Dallas] is a very good attacking team," Onalfo said. "Kenny Cooper can score from anywhere, and he shoots from anywhere.

"They're a very good team going forward, no two ways about it. If you watched them against Real Salt Lake, they could have been up 3-, 4-0 before the game was tied in the second half.

"We'll go over the scouting report, and I'll make it very clear to my team that this is a very good attacking team."

While Dallas will try to recoup in short order from its huge loss, the Wizards will welcome back one of their key pieces as midfielder Davy Arnaud rejoins the team after stints with both the United States national team and MLS All-Star squad.

Arnaud's re-introduction is a boost for the Wizards, but that doesn't mean everything will be clicking from the start.

"I don't expect it to be seamless," Onalfo said. "Whenever there is change, there is a little bit of a transition period. But, what I do expect is a Davy Arnaud with a major bounce in his step, and a guy who represents what I'm all about in terms of his winning mentality and his never-give-up attitude. That part will make up for whatever transition there's going to be in terms of getting back on the same page."

Kansas City will be without the services of its regular captain Jimmy Conrad, who continues to recover from a concussion he suffered against Panama in Gold Cup competition.

The Wizards also announced on Thursday the team's signing of Hungarian forward Zoltan Hercegfalvi. The move appears to be Kansas City's latest attempt to find some regular offense. Opponents have allowed just one goal in the past four games against Kansas City, and the lone goal scored was a brilliant shot from Claudio Lopez from over 50 yards away.

"[Zoltan] is a very clean, technical player," Onalfo said. "He is a good passer of the ball. He adds depth to the forward position. We have a lot of good forwards, and he's just another good one we've added to our team."

Onalfo said Zoltan is about three weeks away from seeing regular MLS action as he trains toward 90-minute fitness.

Curtis Kitchen is a contributor to MLSnet.com.


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