Wizards shock Dynamo with stunning comeback
The Kansas City Wizards surged into third place in the Eastern Conference and moved within three points of the final playoff position with a stunning 4-3 victory against the Houston Dynamo Wednesday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark thanks to a game-winning goal by Josh Wolff six minutes into stoppage time.
The Wizards trailed 3-1 with 30 minutes to go before rallying for the victory.
The Wizards fell behind in the 13th minute on Houston’s first shot on goal of the game. Dynamo defender Mike Chabala and midfielder Brad Davis combined on a give-and-go near midfield, allowing Chabala to serve a cross into striker Cam Weaver, who connected on a sliding, left-footed shot from seven yards out for Houston's early 1-0 lead.
The Dynamo doubled their advantage in the 34th minute as Houston striker Dominic Oduro got behind the Wizards defense, running onto a header flicked on by Weaver. Oduro calmly powered a shot past Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen for his third goal of the season.
Kansas City immediately responded with a goal of its own less than one minute later, as the team’s leading scorer came to the rescue. Kei Kamara found himself alone on goal after midfielder Craig Rocastle had attracted three Houston players before slipping a pass to Kamara inside the penalty area. The Sierra Leone National Team member continued his recent scoring streak with his 10th goal of the season, extending his career high, on a blast into the back of the net.
Kamara has been on the scoresheet in his last four MLS matches, recording three goals and four assists, and is now tied for fifth in MLS in goals scored in 2010.
Ryan Smith, a top attacking talent who came up through Arsenal’s youth system, earned his eighth assist of the season on the play, moving him into a tie for sixth on the league’s assist chart.
The momentum quickly shifted once again two minutes later as Houston’s Adrian Serioux capitalized on an opportunistic finish. Davis sent a long free kick toward the back post that deflected off Wizards defender Shavar Thomas and into a goalmouth scramble where Serioux was positioned to redirect it in.
Down two goals at the half, the Wizards had a tall task to rally having never won in 2010 when trailing at the break, nor when conceding the game’s first goal. Both those hurdles were overcome in a surreal second half that keeps Kansas City’s late-season surge alive.
The Wizards came out with a determination to press forward, inserting midfielder Jack Jewsbury and striker Teal Bunbury into the match at the break. The moves nearly paid off in the 51st minute. as Jewsbury aimed a header past Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad, but Bobby Boswell cleared the shot off the line and then denied Bunbury’s close-range follow-up attempt.
Jewsbury was active again in the 59th minute with an acrobatic scissors kick that Onstad did well to dive to his right and hold.
But one minute later, an Onstad miscue gave Kansas City just the lifeline it needed. Losing his footing on a goal kick, the ball came straight to Bunbury 40 yards out and with a free path to goal. The 2009 Hermann Trophy winner took a long first touch and raced away from the Houston backline before aiming his shot between Onstad’s legs to bring Kansas City back within one. Bunbury scored in his second straight match and now has four goals in his rookie campaign.
With a result back within reach, Kansas City pressed forward for the equalizer and reaped its reward in the 71st minute. Wizards outside back Michael Harrington crossed into the penalty area for Smith, who sent a first-time volley toward the goal. The well-timed shot deflected off Serioux and inside the post to tie the match at 3-3, and breathe life back into Kansas City's playoff push.
Given the momentum, Kansas City was intent on finding a fourth and came close in the 76th minute. Wizards captain Davy Arnaud hit the outside of the post with a half volley following a free kick from Smith. It was the second time Kansas City had been denied by the woodwork, as Kamara had slammed a shot off the crossbar midway through the first half.
The crossbar again denied the Wizards in the 85th minute as Arnaud sent a corner that Kamara headed down and past Onstad. Wolff and Dynamo defender Danny Cruz each battled for the loose ball in the goalmouth and the shot was pushed onto the top of the crossbar and narrowly out of play.
The near misses set the stage for the dramatic ending in the final seconds of the sixth minute of stoppage time. Harrington placed another pinpoint cross into the box where Wolff was unmarked at the penalty spot and powered a perfectly placed header inside the far post to send the Wizards’ home crowd into an ecstatic celebration.
The goal was the latest the Wizards have ever scored in regulation, besting Scott Sealy’s game-winning goal in the 94th minute of a 2007 victory over Columbus.
Wolff, who had just entered the match in the 85th minute and is the Wizards’ second all-time leading goal scorer, scored his second of the season and the 75th regular-season goal of his MLS career. The game-winner is the 21st of his career and moves him into a tie with Carlos Ruiz and Dwayne De Rosario for eighth place on the all-time MLS game-winning goals chart.
With the win, Kansas City became the first team in MLS this season to overcome a two-goal deficit to win, and the seven goals matched the most goals scored between two teams in an MLS match in 2010. It also marked the second straight home game the Wizards have scored four goals, after beating New England 4-1 last month.
Kansas City moves into third place in the Eastern Conference standings, and now sits just three points out of the final playoff spot with one game in hand on Seattle. The Wizards improved to 6-1-3 in their last 10 MLS matches, and have six games remaining in the 2010 regular season.
Kansas City will now welcome perhaps the only hotter team in MLS at the moment, FC Dallas, who will put its 16-game unbeaten streak on the line at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.