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No call adds to Wizards woes

On a day where things were just not right, a wonderfully productive season for the Kansas City Wizards came to a disappointing end in a tumultuous MLS Cup 2004 on Sunday where referee Michael Kennedy played his part in the club's fortunes -- on both sides of the ball.

After Jose Burciaga's sixth-minute goal put the Wizards in the lead, and after Alecko Eskandarian's powerful display on his equalizer in the 19th minute, the game turned four minutes later when Eskandarian hit for his second.

But there was a hint of controversy about the goal, as the MLS Cup MVP knocked the ball down through a touch with his left arm and dribbling quickly by the stunned Conrad before slotting a well-placed shot by Bo Oshoniyi into the lower left corner of the net.

The Wizards never recovered.

"The most disappointing thing, especially on the second goal, is that kind of makes or breaks the game," said defender Jimmy Conrad. "We had a lead and Esky scored a good goal maybe 10 minutes later.

"I would dispute a hand ball; I would like to see the replay of that. But officials make decisions and things happen in a game that you have to role with." The Wizards eventually clawed their way back into the game via another decision, this time as D.C. United's Dema Kovalenko was called for a handball in the box during a flurry of Wizards shots in the 57th minute. That one still wasn't without its moment of indecision as referee Kennedy first didn't award the penalty or send Kovalenko, making the decision only after he was signaled by assistant referee Kermit Quisenberry.

Kansas City striker Josh Wolff put away the ensuing penalty kick and Kovalenko was given his marching orders for stopping the would-be goal on the corner.

"We thought at halftime that if we got an early goal, we can reverse our fortune a little bit. Not only did we get an early goal, we got a red card," said Conrad.

Inspired by what appeared to be a light of opportunity, the Wizards went on the attack.

"You get [33] minutes with a man up, you think you'll get a couple good looks," said Wolff.

Davy Arnaud, Burciaga, and substitute Matt Taylor all had half chances in the remaining half hour but failed to connect. So the Wizards quest for the double ended, fate had had its say, and the Wizards had fallen prey.

Robert Rusert is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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