Wizards rally for tie with Philly
The Kansas City Wizards earned a 1-1 draw on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, climbing into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Wizards captain Davy Arnaud scored on a free kick in the 69th minute to earn a pivotal point in the late-season playoff push for Kansas City.
The Wizards are now two points out of the eighth and final playoff position, pending results around the league this weekend.
Saturday’s match started slowly, as the first 25 minutes saw an evenly-played and hard fought match unfold. Arnaud registered the first shot on goal of the match in the ninth minute, testing Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz from long range. Union rookie Danny Mwanga tried an ambitious attempt of his own in the 17th minute, turning and shooting over the bar from 35 yards out.
Philadelphia’s offense brought the game to life with a series of scoring chances, beginning in the 26th minute with a shot off the post from Stefani Miglioranzi. The Union midfielder’s shot from 30 yards out deflected off Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad mid-flight, leaving goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen helpless as the ball changed directions.
Two minutes later, Philadelphia threatened again as Le Toux nearly opened the scoring if not for the first of five superb stops by Nielsen on the day.
The Union broke through in the 33rd minute, taking a 1-0 lead as Le Toux finished a cross from close range. Philadelphia midfielder Justin Mapp played the ball wide for Mwanga, who earned the assist with a pinpoint cross into the penalty area for Le Toux to redirect. The Frenchman now has 10 goals and 10 assists in his second season in MLS.
Kansas City’s best chance of the first half came on a corner kick in the 36th minute. Arnaud’s service came to defender Shavar Thomas, whose header was saved by Seitz at the back post.
The Wizards, playing without leading goal scorer Kei Kamara due to international duty, started the second half by asserting their attack as Ryan Smith got on the end of a long ball played into the Philadelphia penalty area in the 46th minute. Smith tapped the ball around Seitz, but Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal did well to knock the ball away on a goal-saving tackle.
Arnaud’s free kick prowess proved to be pivotal for Kansas City in the second half. The Wizards came close in the 60th minute as Birahim Diop got on the end of a free kick taken by Arnaud, but Seitz did well to save the header attempt.
Arnaud capitalized on his next free kick in the 71st minute following a foul. Arnaud curled the free kick from 25 yards out under the crossbar and inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season and second consecutive match with a game-changing goal. Arnaud tallied the game-winner in Kansas City’s 2-0 victory over the first-place Galaxy last Saturday.
Kansas City improved to 4-1-3 in its last eight MLS matches and is 7-9-6 overall this season.
The Wizards have two weeks off before closing out their three-game road trip against Chivas USA at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.