The Kansas City Wizards came into Saturday night's match having scored one goal, and only one, in each of their last seven games. The New York Red Bulls came into Saturday's game with just one win -- but five draws -- in their eight games on the year.
Both trends continued at Arrowhead Stadium, as the Wizards and Red Bulls played to a 1-1 draw. Chris Henderson gave the Red Bulls a first-half lead with a great goal from a free kick, then Jose Burciaga Jr. equalized for the home side in the second half when he converted a penalty kick.
The Red Bulls played a 3-5-2 formation to open the match, while the Wizards countered with a 4-4-2 configuration. The Wizards lineup included Jack Jewsbury and Alex Zotinca at the midfielder position. The move appeared to be intended to generate more offense for the Wizards, who have scored 12 goals on the season, but five came in their first two games.
The Red Bulls exploded for five goals May 20 in a 5-4 win against Chivas, their first victory of the season after seven matches (including the five ties). But the Red Bulls' offense faltered against FC Dallas four days later, losing 2-1, their second defeat of the season.
The Wizards had the first strong scoring chance from 20 yards out in the second minute. Midfielder Alex Zotinca's blast from 20 yards out and left of the arc soared well over the crossbar.
The Red Bulls mounted a threat of their own in the 15th minute. Forward Youri Djorkaff slinked around defender Matt Groenwald, but his shot was not on goal in the 19th minute.
Red Bulls midfielder Seth Stammler cut and spun his way to a shot on goal in the 27th minute. But Wizards goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi smothered the shot from inside the penalty area.
The Red Bulls started open the scoring with a spectacular goal in the 30th minute. Midfielder Mark Lisi took the restart and looped a pass to Steve Jolley to the left of the goal. Jolley flung himself forward, and just before the ball reached the endline, was able to pull a header back to the right of the goal.
The header bounced in front of midfielder Chris Henderson. The MLS original fully extended his body while falling backward, punching it into the goal with his right foot. It was highlight-reel footage for his first goal of the season.
The Red Bulls consistently clogged the middle of the field, sometimes with as many as seven players. It proved to be an effective defense, and a effective offensive weapon as well. The cluster in the middle led to long ball opportunities for the New York attack.
Just before the break, Burciaga was fouled hard, crumpling to the ground after a tackle from behind by Stammler. It brought out a caution for Stammler from referee Tim Weyland. But the foul apparently brought out some added incentive for Burciaga.
After the break, the Wizards started to get their attack untracked, and in the 57th minute they pulled level. Scott Sealy nearly got in behind the Red Bulls defense in the left side of the area, and as Jeff Parke chased him from behind, their feet got tangled and Weyland pointed to the spot.
Burciaga stepped to take the kick and sent Tony Meola the other way for his second goal of the season.
Meola made two consecutive deflections of shots as the Wizards fired long-range shots at the goal. The second deflection led to a harmless corner kick.
The Red Bulls made two final runs in an attempt to win the game. Both shots were high off the mark sailing over the goal, and each team ended in a familiar situation.
Thomas Foote is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.