Kansas City’s partner club, Atlas AC, won 1-0 yesterday in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores round of 16. The Mexican side was away to Lanus (Argentina) but secured the victory through Bruno Mariani’s cheeky first half finish. Highlights below.
UPDATED: The team blog has confirmed the signing. Kevin Souter will take Yomby William’s roster spot.
A brief update on prospective player Kevin Souter. The Graceland product does not appear on the team roster on the Wizards website, but today in an interview with the newest signing, Nelson Pizarro, Wizards PR man Dave Borchardt comments: “Nelson, an open tryout guy, we’ve got two of them now on the roster with you and Kevin…” Also, several contacts at Graceland have indicated that the word is spreading that he signed a contract.
Kevin was not listed for the last reserves game in Toronto on Saturday, but has been pictured at practice throughout the season. Emails sent on Thursday to Kevin and Wizards press officer Kyle Rogers were not responded to.
In related news, Kevin’s coach at Graceland, Ivan Joseph, resigned last week after 11 seasons to become an athletic director at Ryerson University in Toronto. Joseph was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 2006 after winning the Yellow Jackets their first national championship.
A few more news and notes…
In a Soccer America article evaluating MLS’ international imports published Tuesday, one gets the impression Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear isn’t impressed by El Piojo. He says, “No offense, but Claudio Lopez ain’t exactly lighting it up.” Which led to today’s article clarifying the comments, explaining that Kinnear feels it takes some time for foreign acquisitions to get comfortable and make an impact. Not quite bulletin board material and I’d imagine it will be long forgotten by the time the two teams meet again in September.
US U-23 coach and former Fire captain Peter Nowak was a noteworthy observer at Sunday’s match in Chicago. With the Olympics set to start in August, the Wizards’ Chance Myers is listed in the 2008 player pool and participated in camps prior to qualifying. His goalline clearance in the 54th minute proved to be a pivotal moment in the shutout, and he also put himself in position for a good scoring chance in the 65th minute only to see his header go over the bar. Fellow Olympic prospect Chad Barrett didn’t fare so well, missing an absolute sitter in the 40th minute. KC coach Curt Onalfo touches on the possibility of losing players to the Olympics and/or World Cup qualifying in this interview earlier this week.
Lastly, while on the topic of Chicago, a tremendously touching story today by former Fire President and GM Peter Wilt. Mr. Wilt was a fan favorite in many of the same ways that OnGoal and Robb Heineman have become in Kansas City before he was replaced by the recently ousted John Guppy. Wilt’s recap of Sunday’s game also gives us some interesting, albeit trivial information on the Wizards 2000 MLS Cup victory over his Fire.
One interesting difference. Despite long and loud protests by Fire leadership (me), MLS refused to let us wear our red uniforms in the championship game. MLS broadcasting executive Michael Cohen would not permit the red uniforms, because the contrast between the red and blue was not enough on the camera operators’ black and white monitors and it would cause them confusion when receiving direction in their headsets. At least Sunday, fans were able to watch two colorful sets of uniforms on the same field.
Kevin Hartman gets quote-of-the-week honors for this gem in responding to the bottle of beer thrown at him during Sunday’s win:
I’m not really sure what the security set up that they have is but I was actually going to have a sip if it was in the 89th or 90th; but since it was around the 85th, I decided to hold off and just throw it in goal.
While he makes light of a serious situation, Chicago’s supporters group, Section 8, has made it clear they do not condone the fan’s actions.
This is our home and our field. It’s very important, indeed essential, that we treat it with respect. There will alawys be someone that screws up, but more of us must take action to ensure everybody understands such behavior is not accepted in our stadium.
MLSnet Extra Time’s Greg Lalas praises Kansas City’s designated player acquisition (4:35 mark of video).
A guy who’s impressed me: Claudio Lopez. The louse has a goal and he set up the winner for KC against Chicago on Sunday. Mostly though, I love his work ethic. He’s not here to retire which is so nice to see. And KC’s Kerry Zavagnin told me how amazed he is at Lopez’s ability to bring other players into the game.
Finally, a couple items from last week worth mentioning. First, a sneak peak at the Wizards new advertising campaign. Plans include 30-second television spots, two anthems, and viral videos throughout the season — sounds promising. Secondly, a comment from Topeka Capital-Journal columnist Rick Dean.
Q: Is there going to be much coverage on the KC Brigade this year?
A: The Brigade, like the KC Wizards, present an interesting dilemma for the Cap-Journal. I’ve written about the Brigade several times in past years…But those stories were always met with indifference – by CJ editors and readers alike. I stand ready to do more Brigade stories, but honestly there ain’t a lot of demand there.
For what it’s worth, the Brigade are averaging 13,337 in their first five home games this season (just above their all-time average of 13,329). Lest we forget, both are niche sports according to the Kansas City Star.
Unlike Oz City which was on a short-term sabattical (and yes, I’m shamelessly hoping the above picture permits a pardon), Jimmy Conrad is everywhere. The Wizards veteran captain is the rock solid anchor in an inexperienced back line; that is, when he’s not going forward on set pieces en route to holding claim as the team’s leading scorer. Off the field, he’s on four billboards in the metro area and is the star of an upcoming Wizards commercial campaign. He has his own radio show, blog, ESPN.com column, and is regularly featured on national publications’ websites like USA Today and The New York Times. And then there’s this: publicity in Penthouse. His q&a (squeezed around a whole lot of t&a) is part of the magazine’s MLS preview in which KC is picked to finish fourth in the East and suffer a first round playoff exit courtesy of eventual MLS Cup champions D.C. United.
Here is a transcript of Jimmy’s interview for those not wanting to convince your significant others that you only bought it for the article (been there, done that and at $9.99 for a single page out of the 150, I’m fairly certain she didn’t believe me). He also gets a page-sized picture of an aerial challenge against Salt Lake’s Robbie Findley, but needless to say it pales in the context of — to steal from HillcrestRoad — photographic bliss exhibited throughout. As for those wondering, the cover girl is Pet of the Month Alektra Blue. With a last name like that, surely she’s meant to be a Wizards Starting XI girl, yes?
“A soccer game without goals is like an afternoon without sunshine.”
— Argentine star Alfredo Di Stefano
Wizards fans suffered through both on Saturday. I’ll be the first to admit I was expecting a much more entertaining affair. Having been in the stands for the Western Conference Championship last November, I still had a sour taste from the 2-0 loss at the hands of Houston and I thought the Wizards would be out for a little redemption after being eliminated by the eventual champions. Couple that with coming off Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat and the insertions of both first round draft picks into the starting lineups, and I would’ve predicted anything but a scoreless draw. The Wizards best scoring chance is pictured above, a Sealy 1v1 with Dynamo backup Tony Caig in the 36th minute. Nevertheless, the Wizards have the most points in the league (with an extra game played) while Houston sits with the second fewest.
My musings from the match:
- Eddie Robinson: This tops the list, hands down (or should I say elbows up?). Robinson’s cheap shot luckily only left Tyson Wahl with a gashed lip (though his extended treatment on the sideline allowed for at least one Houston scoring opportunity), but it went unpunished and presumably unnoticed by referee Baldomero Toledo. He should have been ejected and if there is any justice, he will be suspended by the league’s disciplinary committee. Even Houston fans are conceding as much. Robinson has a history of such violent disregard for his opponents, having led the league in cautions the last two seasons and ranking second in fouls committed in 2005 and 2007. Elbows appear to be a particular specialty, having twice targeted Carlos Ruiz; ejected for one incident in 2006 and cautioned for another last year. He also received a red last year for a last-man tackle on Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman, and two in 2005 for violent conduct (a fist fight with Carey Talley) and serious foul play (a studs up challenge on the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph). UPDATED: Dynamo beat reporter Glenn Davis had this to say on the incident: “The bad: Eddie Robinson throwing a forearm at Tyson Wahl which is sure to get him suspended unless that is no one watched the game on HDNET in the MLS office.” Which elicited this comment from a reader: “Eddie Robinson is the best defender in MLS to me but his forearm/elbow was, unfortunately, a cheap shot. And as a Dynamo fan I love the guy but I actually rewatched the plays leading up to his elbow and it did not look like he was provoked. Usually there is some jostling and pushing/shoving, etc. in the box but he just blasted Wahl. It would not surprise me if he gets 3-6 games only because it really wasn’t in the run of play.”
- Offsides: KC’s 10 flaggings on Saturday was one short of the team record for a single game, as was the two team’s combined 15 offenses. In context, the Wizards had more offsides than the Chicago-San Jose, Dallas-New York, and DC-Salt Lake games combined. As a result, KC has three players in the top 10 for offsides in MLS this season, with Sealy leading the league despite his limited minutes.
- Attendance: Needless to say, given the wintry conditions, there were not 9,500+ fans at CAB as the announced attendance suggests. In the Wizards four-game homestand, fans were welcomed by a little bit of it all — rain, snow, and sun. The only constant seemed to be the CAB’s trademark strong winds. The team’s next four games could be as cold as the last four as the Wizards now travel northeast to play in Chicago, Toronto, Columbus, and New York.
- Kerry Zavagnin: The veteran midfielder tied the mark for most appearances in a Wizards uniform (224). Not bad for a player undrafted out of college, then taken in the last round of the next year’s supplemental draft, then played two seasons in New York (traded there for none other than current Wizards technical director Peter Vermes) before ending up in the A-League, and eventually selected in the third round of the 2000 SuperDraft by the Wizards — coincidentally, the same draft the Wizards picked Nick Garcia, the player Kerry is tied with atop the all-time appearances list. Now in his 9th season with the team, it was ironically only his 6th appearance as a substitute.
- Reserves: The Wizards reserves won 5-0 over the University of Memphis on Sunday morning at the team’s training facility. Goals by Colombano (2), Trujillo, Pore, and McMahen. The victory improves their record to 2-1-1 in all competitions.