Kansas City Wizards 2007 Review: Limits of Positive Thinking

Kansas City Wizards

Record (W-L-T): 11-12-7; 45 GF, 45 GA

Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

 

(NOTE: Sorry about the format – e.g. the automatic, uncorrectable double-spacing; I transferred this from Word – which, curiously enough, works on a Mac. CHRIST, I hate when these fucking machines make my formatting decisions for me. Fuck you Bill Gates! You don’t know what I want!)

Overview

New England Revolution fan that I am (even if I run hot-cold), it’s not too surprising that I gathered my impression of the Kansas City Wizards 2007 season through that team – specifically, a late May 4-3 run-‘n’-gun win and a pair of bustling, barging losses in August. The former confirmed reports of a new, attack-happy approach under new coach Kurt Onalfo; the latter, on the other hand, revealed its limitations against a team willing to play the heavies. The dates of both games are crucial as well: the forward-looking style had KC creeping toward “darling” status in the season’s early going – as in, thank God, a team that tries to win – while the August loss came during a time when it seemed like they’d again miss the post-season. They made it in the end, of course: they even won their first-round series against Chivas USA. But it wasn’t as the same team that started 2007.

 

Like a couple other Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, KC was one of the hot start, cool finish sides – and there’s some truth to this narrative, though it’s more complicated than that. KC definitely started well – going 6-2-2 from the April opening to the first weeks of June – and the rot did sneak in immediately after in the form of a six-game winless streak. What followed, however, constitutes one of the weirder pattern of results I’ve ever seen….or, perhaps, noticed. Apart from a “blip” in July when they picked up two wins, the Wizards kind of staggered through the remainder of 2007 and into the playoffs on the back of just one win per month. Continue reading

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UCL Matchday 5: Liverpool and Werder Bremen control their destinies

GROUP A

Besiktas 2, Marseille 1

The Turkish powerhouses did rebellious Rafa and Liverpool a favor in dispatching Marseille. They grabbed this result after being utterly demoralized 8-0 against Liverpool last time out. Regardless, the Turks can ride this result into their final match-up against group leaders Porto.

Liverpool 4, Porto 1

The thrashings continue. The sleeping giant is now awake and ready to stop underperforming. You can’t deny momentum and the Reds have a lot of it. Fernando Torres provided the first goal, putting the scare of upset as well as the week’s past developments out of Liverpool’s mind. It has been a rough one with many rumblings of Rafa stepping down if the American owners Gillett and Hicks don’t give him the transfer money he wants. Supporters? They are with the boss – as told by the aural explosion when he entered the stadium. Benitez’s response? A wave and then a fervent point to the pitch. I’ll book the Reds a knockout round berth. Even then, it wasn’t until the 78th minute that El Nino could provide his second with Gerrard and Crouch not far behind effectively snuffing out Porto’s efforts.

GROUP B

Chelsea 4, Rosenborg 0

The English are looking powerful – between Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea – it could be England’s year for a Champions League title. Didier Drogba worked his magic, scoring two in the first 20 minutes, with Joe Cole and Alex providing the added boost in goal difference. The Norwegian champions were lifeless – with only young’un Per Skeljbred showing up to play. Chelsea books their spot in the next round, now they’re just hoping they won’t get matched up with another English team.

Valencia 0, Schalke 04 0

Les Ches tried their best to grab a goal after David Albelda was ejected in the 32nd minute. No luck as Schalke put on most of the pressure in the form of wicked crosses from Brazilian right-back Rafinha and Kevin Kuranyi’s aerial prowess. Valencia did have its’ chances, especially when both Joaquin and Silva came achingly close in the waning moments but Schalke held on, getting the second spot in the group.

GROUP C 

Olympiakos 2, Lazio 1

I’d love to say this was a shock result but the Greek champions have been surprising many in European competition this year. They now face a do-or-die match-up with German upstarts Werder Bremen for a spot through. Goran Pandev put Lazio up 1-0 in the 30th only to have his efforts erased by Luciano Galletti and then Darko Kovacevic.

Werder Bremen 3, Real Madrid 2

Madrid still sits atop Group C, but sputtered in what has become a little bit of a recent time Real Madrid trademark…choking. European competition, people. Not domestic – although they almost choked on that too. Promising young’un Aaron Hunt provided the eventual game winner in a tight, physical match-up. It’s not that I didn’t expect this as – lately – Real Madrid loves to make things interesting. And nothing is more interesting than a 4-way battle to the finish.

GROUP D

AC Milan 1, Benfica 1

Freddy Adu came on with a couple minutes to go for the sole purpose of trying to capitalize on what was a potent offense with terrible finishing. No dice – but the game did produce two stunning highlights from Andrea Pirlo and Maxi Pereira. Milan clinched a spot with the point whereas Benfica can still fight for third and a position in the UEFA Cup Knockout Rounds.

Celtic 2, Shakhtar 1

Big win for Celtic as they sit 3 points pretty in second place. Unfortunately, their next match sees them facing AC Milan. The good thing is Benfica has a lot to fight for against Shakhtar and a win is certainly feasible against the Ukrainian giants. They were far from giants yesterday though as they couldn’t preserve a quick lead from Brandao. Lucarelli, Darijo Srna, and Jadson all were a bit off. Celtic enjoyed two strikes – one at the end of each half – from Jiri Jarosik and Massimo Donati. A point against Milan will do the trick.

WHO’S QUALIFIED ALREADY?

Chelsea, AC Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, AS Roma, Inter Milan, FC Sevilla, Arsenal