Categorized | Game Previews

Kansas City Faces a Tall Task In Salt Lake

Posted on 28 May 2010 by Nate Brinson

Two weeks ago, the Kansas City Wizards hoped that a two game home stand could reverse their fortunes. However, the Wizards could only take one point from both games, and after Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Columbus, the club’s winless streak reached six games.

The loss to Columbus was a microcosm of Kansas City’s winless streak. The Wizards enjoyed more of the ball throughout the game and created far more opportunities than their opponents, but they simply could not find a way to score. Meanwhile, a huge defensive blunder led to Columbus’ only goal, an Emilio Renteria wide-open header in the six hard box.

Kansas City must now travel to the Wasatch Front and face a Salt Lake squad that has not lost at home all season. The defending champions enter Saturday’s game on the heels of a 2-1 road win over Chivas USA. Defender Chris Wingert scored in first half stoppage time, but Chivas appeared that they would at least take a point from the game when Justin Braun equalized in the 80th minute. However, the visitors stole all three points when Fabian Espindola received a clever pass from Alvaro Saborio and drove a shot past goalkeeper Zach Thornton.

Both teams will be missing key players due to injuries and World Cup call ups. For Kansas City, Roger Espinoza is with the Honduran World Cup squad, and Michael Harrington will once again slide over to the left side to cover Espinoza’s spot in the back line. Midfielder Stephane Auvray will miss his third consecutive game as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Jack Jewsbury will remain in the holding midfield position, where he will have to keep a close watch on Javier Morales as well as initiate Wizards attacks.

Real Salt Lake will not have Robbie Findley after the striker’s surprise selection in the American World Cup squad. However, Salt Lake has quality depth at the forward position, particularly with Saborio and Espindola scoring several goals already this season. The depth in midfield will be tested with Kyle Beckerman missing the game after suffering a foot injury last week against Chivas USA. Jean Alexandre came on for Beckerman after his injury, but Ned Grabavoy may also feature. Whether it is Alexandre or Grabavoy, it will be a major task for Salt Lake to replace their do-everything captain, and it could benefit the Wizards captain Davy Arnaud, who excels in making storming runs forward from central midfield.

The form book would indicate an easy victory for Salt Lake, particularly due to their impressive record at home. However, the game may not prove to be so simple. Other than the 3-0 loss to Houston in which they played over half of the game with 10 men, Kansas City has not played played off the park during this losing streak. In fact, they have out shot opponents by more than a two to one margin in their last three games. Real would also be wise to remember when a Kansas City team struggling to find victories came to Rio Tinto Stadium and left 2-0 winners. It was Salt Lake’s last defeat and home, and it serves as a reminder that recent form is not the be-all and end-all.

Still, if the Wizards want to pull the upset, they must turn their possession into goals and avoid the defensive miscues that have plagued them for over a month. Head coach Peter Vermes feels that his team is significantly better than last year. However, they must start to find some victories, or 2010 could end just as 2009 did.

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