MLSsoccer.com will break down the Wizards’ season in three-match blocks during the Major League Soccer regular season. Consider it ten quick glimpses into Kansas City’s season, each of which will play a critical role in the team’s quest to return to the playoffs.
Tied for fifth in Eastern Conference (2-3-1, seven points)
April 24 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy: 0-0 tie
May 1 at Houston Dynamo: 3-0 defeat
May 5 at D.C. United: 2-1 defeat
May 15 vs. Chicago Fire (2-3-2, eight points)
May 23 vs. Columbus Crew (3-0-2, 11 points)
May 29 at Real Salt Lake (3-3-1, 10 points)
Player to remember…Kei Kamara (one goal)
After coming away from three games with one point, there isn’t much to choose from here. Even so, Kamara has made one thing clear every time he’s touched the field this season. He is going to try his hardest to make an impact.
Kamara is going to chase balls, he is going to throw himself into challenges and he is going to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net from time to time. The flipside is that he is also going to have the occasional unexplainable moment (see the now-famous flub against the Galaxy).
Player to watch…Josh Wolff
Wolff makes this spot again simply for the fact that he is still scoreless after six games. Kansas City’s scoring issues are well documented at this point—the team has just two goals outside a four-goal explosion on opening night—and it is going to need Wolff to put a few balls in the back of the net eventually.
So far the veteran is finding other ways to contribute. His passing has created quality chances the last few games, and almost no one on the team can match his experience. Nevertheless, the Wizards must find more sources of scoring if they want to stop their current slump.
Two things that went right…
1) Tying the Galaxy
It wasn’t three points and Kansas City had plenty of chances to walk away winners, but Los Angeles has played eight matches and not won exactly one of them. Holding the Galaxy scoreless was another feat in and of itself.
If Vermes’ team can maintain their home form, especially on the defensive side of the ball, plenty of points should be in store at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
2) Jimmy Conrad is back from injury
Conrad is Kansas City’s only truly experienced defender, and losing him for an extended period of time would have been a difficult blow to weather even with the depth manager Peter Vermes has developed.
With Conrad back in the fold after recovering from a strained calf, Matt Besler and Pablo Escobar will battle for the spot partnering the veteran. Both have shown flashes of being extremely capable, even if Escobar didn’t exactly impress against D.C. United.
Two things that went wrong…
1) Defensive miscues
After allowing only one goal in their first three games, the Wizards leaked five in the next three. Kansas City had a rough game by any standard defensively against United, but Vermes has promised to attend to the team’s concentration and execution issues.
Luckily for Kansas City, there are some legitimate reasons for the defensive issues lurking under the surface. Davy Arnaud’s ejection didn’t help the Wizards’ cause against Houston, and Escobar isn’t likely to give away goals like against D.C. all season.
2) Road form
Three games in Kansas City have resulted in two wins and a tie. Three games on the road – all defeats – haven’t gone nearly as well.
Kansas City’s home form plagued it a year ago while the home form suffered. That seems to have reversed itself this season, and Vermes’ team needs to start getting road results soon before they bury themselves early.
It doesn’t get any easier from here on out for Kansas City. Two games at CAB are a plus, but the Fire and Crew promise to be as tough of home tests as they come. Following that up with a game against the defending MLS Cup Champions in Salt Lake City poses another unique challenge.
The Wizards are undefeated at home and anything less than four points from their first two games would be a disappointment. The next challenge will be taking at least a point on the road against RSL to earn their first result away from home in 2010.