Kansas City Wizards
Arrowhead Stadium (MLS capacity: 20,571)
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2004 Record: 14-9-7, 49 pts. 1st in the Western Conference
GF: 38 (7th in MLS)
GA: 30 (1st in MLS)
Finish: MLS Cup runner-up. Defeated San Jose Earthquakes in Conference Semifinal (3-2 on agg.); defeated Los Angeles Galaxy in Conference Final (2-0); lost to D.C. United in MLS Cup 2004 (2-3)
Head Coach: Bob Gansler
Key Departures: Tony Meola, Francisco Gomez, Matt Taylor
Key Additions: Sasha Victorine
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Bo Oshoniyi: Oshoniyi shined while filling in for the injured Tony Meola for the last 2 1/2 months of the season last year ending with a 0.89 goals against average in nine matches.
Sasha Victorine: Victorine's versatility and composure on the ball are two reasons the Wizards obtained him for a second-round pick on a SuperDraft-day trade. He should start at right back after a late switch from wide midfield.
Jimmy Conrad and Nick Garcia:
Best 11 player Conrad and All-Star Garcia may be the best center back combination in MLS.
Jose Burciaga Jr.: Burciaga has been a regular contributor to the attack from left back during the preseason. His MLS Cup 2004 score was no fluke.
Chris Klein: All-Star Klein's return from a left ACL tear has been a strong one. He could be the key to a more consistent Kansas City attack on the right flank.
Diego Gutierrez and Kerry Zavagnin: The league's most consistent central midfield tandem last season looks to improve each time they step on the field. Maybe Gutierrez will receive some recognition this season to match Zavagnin's Best XI and All-Star selection last season.
Jack Jewsbury: Since Victorine's switch, Jewsbury, Preki, Khari Stephenson, and Diego Walsh have played here. After a coming out last season, Jewsbury had a goal and an assist vs. Real Salt Lake in the Wizards' final preseason match.
Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff: The dynamic duo combined for 19 goals and 15 assists last season. The 19 goals were exactly half of the Wizards' total on the year. All-star Wolff was the Wizards' leading scorer with 10 goals last season.
OUTLOOK: The defense is solid, first in MLS last season with a 1.00 goals against average. The offense was seventh in MLS last season. "I think we need to be a consistent team. A lot of people talk about us as solely a defensive team or a counter-attacking team," said midfielder Chris Klein. "We have to prove that we can come out of that and show another side to ourselves."
NEWCOMER WITH THE BIGGEST IMPACT: Sasha Victorine
The five-year MLS veteran will certainly aid in the Wizards goal of being a more possession-oriented side this season, and if Victorine can contribute offensively near his MLS best season of seven goals and five assists, the Wizards will have made an excellent addition. In addition, his versatility will help when the Wizards are faced with U.S. national team call-ups. Coach Bob Gansler said: "I thought Sasha was a heck of a second-round pickup."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.