Matt Besler
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Monday breakdown: Wizards make a statement vs. LA

Result …

0-0 draw on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy (4-0-1) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark

Table position …

Tied for second place in the Eastern Conference on seven points with Columbus and Chicago.

Three things to take away …

1) Defense will be Kansas City’s calling card in 2010.

Goals keep the fans on the edge of their seats, but any manager will tell you the key to long-term success is a stingy backline. The Wizards have three shutouts through four matches and are unlucky not to have four. Four different center backs have played for manager Peter Vermes during that time, depth the Wizards figure to take full advantage of as injuries come and go during the regular-season grind. The WIzards controlled the middle of the park against LA and applied their trademark pressure high up the field to keep the Galaxy from finding a comfort zone or the feet of Edson Buddle. They didn't earn three points against LA, but Kansas City will certainly be happy with another shutout.

2) The Wizards have to be more clinical in front of goal.

Four goals against D.C. United was an ideal start to the season, but that hasn’t translated to success in front of goal in Kansas City’s following three matches. The Wizards have only managed one set-piece goal during 270 minutes of play, which is certainly a concern for a team with lofty aspirations. Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud and Ryan Smith have been the offensive instigators so far, but they need support to put the ball in the back of the net consistently. That support is going to have to come from Josh Wolff at some point. So far Wolff has been frustrated nearly everywhere he’s played and doesn't look like the same player that led the Wizards in goals in 2009. The Wizards need that to change quickly so they can begin firing on all cylinders.

3) Jimmy Niesen is settling in nicely.

Nielsen hasn’t been the busiest net minder in MLS through five weeks, but he has been one of the most effective. He was up to the same old tricks against the Galaxy on Saturday evening, making all the saves he should and denying Landon Donovan on a breakaway in the second half. The coaching staff and his teammates seem to have taken a liking to Nielsen already, which is a good sign given that the popular Kevin Hartman exited in the offseason.

Two players who stood out…

Defender Matt Besler

Besler was forced into action against Seattle a week ago when Jimmy Conrad succumbed to an early muscle strain and combined with Pablo Escobar to handcuff a potent Sounders attack until the final minutes. The duo was on its game once against the Galaxy with Besler helping shackle the previously unstoppable Edson Buddle and preventing Landon Donovan from running amok. The second-year player kept things simple against Los Angeles, keeping Buddle and Donovan from finding enough space to connect and helping the Wizards to their third home shutout in three attempts.

Midfielder Jack Jewsbury

It looked like Jewsbury might face an uphill climb to regain his fitness and spot in the starting lineup by First Kick after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason. That hasn't been the case through four matches—all starts for the veteran midfielder. Jewsbury has worked tirelessly this season applying pressure on the ball high up the field, and that didn't change against the Galaxy. He also got forward in spurts against Los Angeles and was unlucky not to help Kansas City walk away with the full three points. Needless to say, it will take something spectacular for Craig Rocastle or Birahim Diop to push him out of Vermes’ gameday 11.

One play that changed the game…

Kamara’s whiff in front of a gapping net in the 17th minute has a good chance to go down as the miss of the 2010 Major League Soccer season. Luckily for Kamara, Kansas City held on for a valuable point against what many consider the best team in the league. Even though it clearly hurt the Sierre Leone native to miss out on a goal and a possible three points, Kamara must find a way to put his goal-line strikeout in the past as quickly as possible. With Zoltan out indefinitely, Kamara figures to get most of the playing time anchoring the Wizards front line.

Final verdict…

Sure, Kansas City could have—and probably should have—come away with all three points, but there is no use crying over spilt milk or goalmouth flubs. The Wizards made a statement on Saturday night. Opponents cannot visit CAB and expect to leave with a result like last season. This team is organized, tenacious and capable of competing with any team in MLS. Now, Vermes’ squad just needs to recapture its scoring touch.

Next up…

Saturday May 1 at Houston Dynamo (2-2-1) on FSC. Kansas City has proven it can collect points at home through four matches, three of which came at CAB. How will the Wizards respond to their second road test?