Wizards tie defending MLS champs
The Kansas City Wizards earned a 1-1 draw against 2009 MLS Cup champs Real Salt Lake in front of a sellout crowd Saturday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Striker Kei Kamara scored the opener for Kansas City off an excellent pass from Ryan Smith. USA World Cup veteran Robbie Findley answered back for RSL later in the first half off a Robbie Russell cross.
Kansas City momentarily looked to have won the match late, but Teal Bunbury was flagged for being offside on a finish in the 86th minute.
Kansas City pressed the game early, generating the first dangerous chance of the game in the ninth minute. Left back Roger Espinoza fed Smith outside the penalty area. Smith cut inside a defender and centered the ball for striker Bunbury, who attempted to put a shot on goal. Bunbury’s deflection didn’t reach the net, however, and sat up in the middle for Davy Arnaud. Arnaud raced to the ball and took a shot on goal that RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando did well to save off his line, keeping the match tied 0-0.
Smith continued to cause problems for RSL, dancing around defenders in both the 17th and 18th minutes to shoot toward goal. Both shots were blocked, however, with the second leading to a corner kick. After the corner, Espinoza fed Kamara for a header from the PK spot, but the shot went wide of the post.
Smith and Kamara then connected to put Kansas City on the score board just three minutes later in the 21st. After another dead ball situation, Smith collected a loose ball and made a nifty cut around two RSL defender to give himself time and space for a right-footed cross. Smith’s cross found Kamara’s head eight yards from goal, and Kamara redirected the ball perfectly into the upper 90 just past the outstretched arm of Rimando for Kamara’s seventh goal of the season. The goal set a new career high for the Sierra Leone international forward.
Salt Lake answered back in the 33rd minute to tie the game 1-1 through Findley. Russell found himself with time and space on the right flank, and his pinpoint cross hit Findley in stride at the top of the six-yard area. Findley was wide open and nodded the ball down inside the back post for his fifth goal of the 2010 MLS season.
RSL nearly went up 2-1 in the first minute of stoppage time through a long-range shot from midfielder Will Johnson, but Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen came up big with a near-post save to keep the ball out of the upper corner.
Kansas City outshot RSL 9-4 after halftime, but only put one of those efforts on frame en route to a 1-1 draw. Of Real’s four shots, two were on goal and were met by excellent saves from Kansas City All-Star Nielsen.
In the 49th minute, RSL All-Star Javier Morales found himself behind the defense at the top of the area. Nielsen rushed off his line, however, to swat away Morales’ shot from 17 yards out and keep the game tied at 1-1. Then in the 61st minute, Morales directed a free kick on goal from 28 yards out, but Nielsen again pushed the ball wide to keep Kansas City level.
Kansas City’s best chance of the half came in the 84th minute after a counterattack put Arnaud in prime position on the right side of the penalty area. Rimando scooped up Arnaud’s low, hard shot just before Bunbury arrived to tap home the centering effort. Bunbury’s rebound goal two minutes later was flagged for offside, and the match ended 1-1.
Kansas City hits the road next week, facing the San Jose Earthquakes at 9 p.m. Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium.