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Wizards lament slow start vs. Hoops

When the Kansas City Wizards came to Pizza Hut Park on Sunday to face FC Dallas, if they would have been told that a tie against the Hoops would have been likely, they would have taken their point and headed back to Missouri.

For a few short minutes after the regulation 90 were complete, it looked like they would get their wish after Alex Zotinca tied the game at 1-1 in second-half stoppage time. But just two minutes later, FCD got what proved to be the game-winner off the foot of Aaron Pitchkolan to prevail 2-1.

The loss somewhat spoiled the return of K.C. forward Eddie Johnson to Dallas, who played for the Hoops between 2001 and 2005. But overall, he was pleased with the effort.

"I thought we played well on the road," he said. "We knew it would be a tough game. FC Dallas is a good team and they showed it today."

Kansas City head coach Bob Gansler broke down the loss in terms of basics.

"For the vast majority of the game, we dominated the ball and dominated the play," he said. "We all know that games aren't just won on artistry and on ball possession."

Gansler did notice the number of opportunities that his team created.

"I thought we had more opportunities today than they did and that's a positive," he said. "Games aren't always won by tactical and technical things, they are sometimes won by hard work. They (FC Dallas) got the better of us in that way."

K.C. trailed 1-0 early after a fourth-minute goal by FCD's Kenny Cooper, his team-leading third goal of the season, which came on a diving header that went past Wizards goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi.

But for most of the first half, the Kansas City offense looked listless. Their first shot didn't come until the 28th minute and they finished the opening frame with only four.

In the second half, they seemed to come alive and forward Josh Wolff noticed the difference in their play between the two halves.

"We were a little lackadaisical at the beginning," he said. "We gave up a goal that was one of those where it was a scramble in the front and that was disappointing. We never got into a good rhythm in the first half.

"I think the game typically opens up in the second half and that kind of favors us," he said. "We're still trying to get on the same page as far as playing the 4-3-3. I don't think we're quite set on how we attack. We got some decent chances, but in the end we didn't do enough to get one early enough to make it hold up."

A huge break came their way in the 68th minute when FCD defender Chris Gbandi was ejected after attempting a horse-collar tackle on Kansas City forward Davy Arnaud. To their credit, the Wizards did an excellent job of creating lots of scoring chances with the man advantage.

The Wizards tied the game when Zotinca got his first goal of the year in the 92nd minute. It came after Wolff deflected a corner kick from Jose Burciaga Jr. to the far post, where Zotinca was waiting. He then pushed the ball past Sala for the equalizer. It was his first goal since May 14, 2005 at Columbus.

Just three minutes later, FCD's Pitchkolan, who entered the game in the 75th minute, found the back of the net for his first tally of the year and what proved the game-winner for the home team. Wolff was disappointed with the end result but was pleased with his team's resiliency.

"It takes the breath out of you," he said. "The idea was to try to steal the three points after we got the first one. We're very disappointed to go out of here without at least one point.

"I think we showed some resiliency," he said. "We went a man up and at times utilized that. We still have to find better ways to create chances with a man up and with the guys that we had on the field. We've got to do better at getting chances and also on finishing them in front of the goal."

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.