CARSON, Calif. - The Kansas City Wizards put on a lackluster performance against Chivas USA, failing to capitalize on the reeling expansion side en route to a 1-1 draw at The Home Depot Center on Wednesday night.
A win would have put the Wizards ahead of the Chicago Fire and into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Wizards are tied with Chicago in the standings at 16 points apiece as they travel cross-country to take on the first place New England Revolution on Saturday in Boston.
"We came to win, not tie," said disappointed Wizards coach Bob Gansler. "The possibilities were there late, we had a couple of them but we need to execute better. Standards are high."
The Wizards offense was stagnant throughout the match, the lone goal coming off a lucky strike from defender Jose Burciaga in the 30th minute.
Although the absences of midfielder Kerry Zavagnin and forward Josh Wolff - both away on U.S. national team duty - complicated matters for the Wizards attack, it wasn't used as an excuse for their poor play.
"Those are guys that you can't replace but we have a deep enough squad where we feel that we can come out and win every game," said Wizards captain Diego Gutierrez. "We played well the previous two games without them so it's not a make or break thing where if we don't have them we won't perform well."
In their last two matches, both without Wolff and Zavagnin, the Wizards were able to take home 1-0 victories.
However, Wolff's absence from his usual role spearheading the Wizards attack was all too evident against Chivas USA.
"He's one of those guys that wreak havoc on defenses," said Sasha Victorine. "He can create chances by himself and we missed that tonight."
Without Wolff, whose four goals on the year tie him for the team lead with Chris Klein, the Wizards were left to depend on a strike from an unlikely source. Burciaga's strike on the half-hour 25 yards from goal on the left flank was intended as a centering pass but instead sailed over the head of Chivas USA's unsuspecting goalkeeper Martin Zuniga and into the back of the net.
"All I was trying to do was reach the far post and luckily it went in," Burciaga said about the goal, his first of the season and second of his MLS league career, though he scored on a long-range effort at The Home Depot Center in last year's MLS Cup Final.
The lone goal for the Wizards only helped to underline their offensive troubles.
"We had a tough day up top," added Burciaga. "Both of our forwards kept coming at their defense but they just couldn't figure it out."
"We never found our groove tonight and we lacked a little bit of speed of play," said Gutierrez, who was limited to few touches throughout the night. "We weren't able to do what we usually do, which is string passes together and get going forward. We just couldn't find our rhythm."
The Wizards will have to rediscover that rhythm as they head into Saturday's important match against the Revolution, the first of two consecutive games against the conference leaders.
"We're looking up at that team so there shouldn't be any problem getting motivated," said Gansler.
Burciaga welcomes the challenge presented by the much heralded Revolution.
"We've been ready for that game, we've been waiting for them and there's been a lot of hype about them. I think we're going to go in there with confidence and I think we can get a point and hopefully a win. It's going to be a great two weeks."
Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.