Kansas City Wizards 2010

11 W, 13 L, 6 T

3rd, Eastern Conference

Team Leaders
Kei Kamara, 10 G
Ryan Smith, 7 A
Jimmy Nielsen, 1.17 GAA
Jimmy Nielsen, 80 SVS

Complete 2010 stats

Peter Vermes

CommunityAmerica Ballpark

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The 2010 season had a disappointing end, with the team barely missing the playoffs, but a late-season run led the team to a finish only seven points out of the post-season picture. Newcomers played a key role in 2010. Ryan Smith brought flair and speed to the left side of the attack, leading the team in assists. Stéphane Auvray of Guadeloupe anchored the defensive midfield. First-round draft pick Teal Bunbury notched five goals in a part-time role, and earned a call-up to the US National Team. New goalkeeper Jimmy “White Puma” Nielsen from Denmark won the NAPA Save of the Week award six times. Roger Espinoza’s MLS play helped him earn a spot on the Honduras World Cup squad for South Africa 2010, where he started twice.

Kansas City took a step forward in 2010, but unfortunately, that progress didn’t quite add up to a playoff berth. The Wizards were the last team eliminated from postseason contention, fading down the stretch after a rousing turnaround helped wipe out the memory of the team’s disastrous midseason slump. Their final record of 11-13-6 proved what a solid season it had been, and the foundations had been put in place after a promising finish to the year.

But for an organization determined to turn things around on the field, that consolation prize was simply a sign that there is more work to do. Despite picking up a number of impressive results during the second half of the season, manager Peter Vermes’ side didn’t collect three points for nine straight games at one point and consistently struggled to score and prevent soft goals, issues that will certainly be targeted for improvement in the offseason.

Kansas City’s best moment in 2010 come courtesy of the 2-1 defeat of Manchester United to open the New Arrowhead Stadium. Mired in a dreadful slump at the time, few gave the club much of a chance against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. But that didn’t deter Kansas City, and the home side used goals from Davy Arnaud and Kei Kamara to register a historic victory that jumpstarted the rest of the season.

There were certainly some low points during the club’s dreadful stretch in April, May and June, but one moment sticks out because it effectively ended the Wizards' season. Needing a victory to stay alive in the playoff race going into the season’s final week, Kansas City turned in a performance against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium that was a microcosm of their entire year.

Despite outshooting the Revolution 22-7 and driving the game, Shalrie Joseph capitalized on a defensive mistake by the visitors to give the Revs a 1-0 lead that they didn’t relinquish, relegating KC to another season without a playoff berth.

Kamara scored some crackers over the season, but his best came thanks to a piece of individual brilliance against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in September. With a defender draped on his back, Kamara headed the ball into the area, turned his defender and struck the dropping ball on the volley, slipping it inside the post to help propel the Wizards to a 2-0 victory.

For a team that struggled so mightily to score consistently, each and every one of Kamara’s 10 goals and six assists were godsends. Talented but inconsistent until this season, the well-traveled Sierre Leone international took a step forward under the guidance of Vermes and morphed into one of the league’s most dangerous wide players and became the Wizards' standout defender on set pieces.

After the team declined to re-sign veteran keeper Kevin Hartman in the offseason, many fans were skeptical of Nielsen’s ability to fill the shoes of the club’s longtime starter. The Dane dispelled those fears almost immediately, logging a standout season in which he started 29 games, won a handful of Save of the Week awards and bailed the Wizards defense out on multiple occasions.