Curt Onalfo ya está listo para debutar como técnico del United
D.C. United

Match Preview: KC Wizards vs. D.C. United

The basics

Kansas City Wizards (0-0-0) vs. D.C. United (0-0-0) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

D.C. holds the 17-13-9 edge in all-time regular season match-ups against the Wizards.

TV info

8:30 p.m. E.S.T (KCWE, DK, MLSsoccer.com)

What's at stake?

With Kansas City stumbling through the 2009 season, then Technical Director Peter Vermes fired head coach Curt Onalfo and saw the team through the remainder of the season. Now the two will go head to head on opposing sidelines for the first time. Both clubs have playoffs on their mind this year after missing out a year ago.

Last meeting

D.C. United and Kansas City faced each other to close out the 2009 season and they will meet to open their 2010 campaigns. On the final day of the 2009 campaign, and with its playoff chances hinging on collecting three points, United sputtered to a 2-2 draw with the Wizards and narrowly missed the postseason. The Wizards equalized on a penalty kick in second half stoppage time. Both sides’ rosters have drastically changed this offseason, but that doesn’t mean D.C. doesn’t remember how disappointingly last year ended.

Remember when?

The only postseason match-up between the two clubs came in MLS Cup 2004 at The Home Depot Center. D.C. United, featuring 15-year-old rookie Freddy Adu and rookie head coach Peter Nowak, came away with the 3-2 victory behind two goals from Alecko Eskandarian. Dema Kovalenko became the first player ever sent off in MLS Cup but the Wizards could not equalize against 10-man United. Since that encounter, neither team has been back to the final.

Heroes & Villains ...

Curt Onalfo (D.C.) vs. Peter Vermes (K.C.): Both managers have played down the meeting, but after working together for more than two years in Kansas City, each will be eager to start the season with three points against a former colleague. Vermes has been critical of the team’s attitude in 2009 and made wholesale changes to the squad to fix it.

While Onalfo is familiar with the tactics it takes to succeed on the small playing surface in Kansas City, Vermes wants his team to develop a true home field advantage this year after struggling at CAB in 2009.

Both teams fancy themselves attacking sides, and it will be interesting to see the game plans put forth by each manager.

Jimmy Conrad (K.C.) vs. Jaime Moreno (D.C.): D.C. United’s attack revolves around the creative presence that Moreno provides in the attacking part of the field. With five goals in three matches at the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup, it’s safe to say the 36-year-old is in fine form entering his 15th MLS campaign.

On the flip side, the veteran Conrad is one of the league’s best defenders and the player who will most likely be tasked with stopping United’s Bolivian hitman. It won’t be easy. Kansas City gave up far too many goals at home last season, and Moreno’s style of play fits in well on a field on which ball movement is key.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …”

These two clubs have opened the season against one another on three previous occasions and each match ended 3-2. D.C. United opened the 1998 and 2001 seasons with 3-2 victories at RFK Stadium. On April 12, 2003, the Wizards got a 3-2 OT result of their own at Arrowhead Stadium.

He said it

“He’s been with the club a long time, and he embodies a lot of the stuff we’re trying to do going forward … He’s the type of guy that’s the heart and soul of the group.” – Peter Vermes on Davy Arnaud taking over the captaincy from Jimmy Conrad in Kansas City.