It was a classic case of rope-a-dope at RFK Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Kansas City Wizards stole a precious three points from an otherwise dominant D.C. United with a crafty 1-0 win.
Veteran Sasha Victorine shocked the partisan crowd with a deadly strike in the 77th minute, taking advantage of an ill-timed D.C. defensive lapse to score a goal against the run of play.
United's passsionate fans were treated to an unfortunate surprise before the start of the game as captain Jaime Moreno was sitting on the bench instead of leading his team onto the RFK pitch. Moreno, normally a constant in the United first 11, sustained an ankle injury during Thursday's training session and had to miss his first match of the year.
United enjoyed superior possession in the first half, but with their counterattacking style, the visitors were accustomed to conceding the ball and looked relatively comfortable in defense.
Moreno's replacement in attack, Freddy Adu was clearly feeling comfortable in his return to the starting lineup and he deserved to open the day's scoring with a dazzling run in the 16th minute after Josh Gros sprang him with a long clearance down the left touchline.
Adu surged forward and bamboozled Shavar Thomas with a deft move that left the Wizards defender sprawled on the turf, then continued into the box and cut back onto his right foot as Nick Garcia went flying past in anticipation of a shot. But with the goal at his mercy, Adu tried unsuccessfully to find the near post and instead hit right at Kansas City 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi.
Scott Sealy tested Rimando in the 24th minute when he drilled a low shot after being set up at the top of the United 18-yard box by Davy Arnaud's chested layoff, but the United 'keeper was well-positioned to gobble up the effort. Then Rimando had to be on his toes again in the 37th minute when Jack Jewsbury sent a dangerous low cross through the D.C. box, but Rimando snagged the ball ahead of a sliding Arnaud.
Adu gave the KC backline fits again in the 38th minute, playing a perfectly weighted through ball that put Dema Kovalenko in behind Garcia with a clear view of goal. Garcia had no choice but to slide in from behind, felling Kovalenko, but referee Michael Kennedy waved play on as the RFK faithful screamed their displeasure.
Jewsbury had his side's best chance of the half in injury time, as he floated into open space on the right side of the United defense and cracked a first-timer off Victorine's lateral ball, but Rimando made another important save, quickly switching direction to make a leaping punch save.
The home side's energy level got a boost just before the hour when young striker Nana Kuffour came on in relief of Jamil Walker, and the energetic Ghanaian helped keep the momentum squarely behind United as they laid siege on the Wizards' goal.
Kovalenko thought he'd stolen a goal in the 63rd minute when his right-wing cross deflected off a defender and spun towards the far upper corner, but Oshoniyi backtracked to slap the ball away and rescue his team again.
Kansas City seemed satisfied to kill the game and go home with a draw, but their opportunistic approach finally paid off as it has so many times before. This time it was Victorine, taking advantage of a turnover by Brian Carroll, who gave his team a lead with a coolly taken shot in the 77th minute.
United's backline allowed Victorine to stride forward into the acres of space left by a backtracking Brandon Prideaux, and the former Galaxy man made no mistake with a low drive from just outside the area past Rimando and into the side netting.
D.C. had a priceless opportunity to level matters in the 86th minute when they earned a corner kick, which Adu curled to the far post for Gomez to head back into the goalmouth. A chaotic sequence ensued as substitute Jason Thompson nodded the ball off the base of the post as Oshoniyi sprawled desperately, then Gomez slapped it back towards the empty net only to be denied by K.C. defender Jose Burciaga Jr. on the goal line.
United pressured frantically as the Wizards tried to kill the game with possession, and D.C. threw wave after wave of players into the box, only for Kennedy to blow the whistle and condemn the Black-and-Red to their first home loss to the Wizards since the league's inaugural season, a span of 11 matches.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Bo Oshoniyi (Kansas City Wizards)
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Kansas City Wizards (6-4-7) vs. D.C. United (6-6-4)
July 09, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
KC -- Sasha Victorine 4 (unassisted) 77
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Jack Jewsbury (Preki 71), Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr., Chris Klein (Brian Roberts 80), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine, Davy Arnaud, Scott Sealy.
Substitutes Not Used: Dustin Branan, Will Hesmer, Ryan Pore.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Scott Sealy 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Scott Sealy 2); FOULS: 11 (Kerry Zavagnin 4); OFFSIDES: 6 (Davy Arnaud 2, Scott Sealy 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Chris Klein 1, Preki 1); SAVES: 7 (Bo Oshoniyi 7)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Brandon Prideaux (David Stokes 84), Bobby Boswell, John Wilson, Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Clyde Simms (Matt Nickell 80), Joshua Gros, Freddy Adu, Jamil Walker (Nana Kuffour 59).
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Guppy, Shawn Kuykendall, Jaime Moreno, Troy Perkins, Jason Thompson, Andrew Weber.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Christian Gomez 4, Dema Kovalenko 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Freddy Adu 2, Christian Gomez 2); FOULS: 16 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Freddy Adu 3, Christian Gomez 3); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
DC -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Professional Foul) 78
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Thomas Supple; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Kenneth Kaplan
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.