The Wizards leave it late in the highest-scoring MLS game this season.The Kansas City Wizards kept their playoff hopes alive after a wild and unpredictable match at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Josh Wolff’s improbable 96th minute winner gave Kansas City a 4-3 victory in front of a vocal crowd.
In the first 10 minutes of the match, it appeared that Kansas City and Houston were on the way to a boring, low-scoring affair, with both teams looking disjointed but defending competently. Little did anyone know what was in store.
After a dull start, Houston blew the match wide open in the 13th minute, converting the first clear-cut chance of the match for either side. Geoff Cameron started the attack by switching the point of attack from the right flank to the left flank, finding Mike Chabala, who picked up his ball and swung it across the face of goal. It looked to be a 50-50 ball between Roger Espinoza and Cameron Weaver, but Weaver was the man who wanted it more, diving and stabbing it past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to give Houston the 1-0 lead.
Kansas City surged back quickly, and in the 25th minute, Kei Kamara pushed forward from the right flank on a counterattack and found himself free on goal. He hit a spectacular half volley that beat Onstad, but struck the crossbar and bounced away. If Kamara had attempted a simpler finish, he almost certainly would have scored.
Just two minutes later in the 27th, Ryan Smith surged down the left flank with the ball and easily beat Houston fullback Andrew Hainault to get himself a clear look on goal. He aimed for the far post, but Onstad saved spectacularly.
The 34th minute saw the beginning of a ridiculous four minute sequence that held numerous chances and goals for both teams. Off of a long ball, Weaver flicked a header into the path of Dominic Oduro, who burned Wizards defender Shavar Thomas and calmly placed the ball into the back of the net to give the Dynamo a 2-0 lead.
The two-goal cushion lasted for less than a minute, though, as Kei Kamara scored in the 35th to make it 2-1 to Houston. Craig Rocastle hit a quality through-ball into the path of Kamara, who surged past the sleeping Dynamo defense and finished with a powerful strike at Onstad’s near post.
In the 37th minute, the Dynamo would take a two goal lead once again. Brad Davis hit a free kick 40 yards into the box that found Bobby Boswell, who played the ball with his right foot across the face of goal to a waiting Adrian Serioux, who scored an easy tap-in. It was a questionable free kick in the first place, as the linesman appeared to signal a handball against Oduro. However, Jair Maruffo granted a free kick to Houston and they capitalized.
Play settled down towards the end of the half and Houston went into the locker room with a 3-1 lead. After the events of the first half, they could have had no idea what was about to happen in the second 45 minutes.
The second half started quietly, much like the first. Just like the first half, it would eventually get wild.
The first opportunity of the half came from a header by Jack Jewsbury, who replaced Auvray at the break. In the 52nd minute, Kamara crossed from the right to an unmarked Jewsbury. Inexplicably, his header didn’t result in a goal as Boswell made a fantastic clearance off the line.
Just two minutes later, in the 61st minute, Kansas City would make the game interesting with their second goal. Another substitute, Teal Bunbury, capitalized on a slip from Pat Onstad on a goal kick and took a fantastic touch to send himself clear of the defense. He surged past Serioux and put the ball between Onstad’s legs to make it 3-2.
The game died down for a bit after that, but the next clear cut opportunity for either side resulted in the equalizer for Kansas City. Wizards fullback Michael Harrington beat Cameron easily and put a cross through the box that was scored off of a touch by Smith. The goal deflected off of Serioux before it went in and was officially ruled as an own goal, although Harrington and Smith did plenty of good work to cause it.
Unsurprisingly, neither team was satisfied with a 3-3 result and the chances kept on coming.
In the 76th minute, Kansas City appeared to have the winner before the post coldly denied Davy Arnaud. The Wizards midfielder hit a volley from 20 yards away and beat Onstad, but the ball bounced harmlessly away off the woodwork.
In the 86th minute, Kansas City hit the woodwork once again in a wild sequence. Off of a corner, Kamara hit a header into the ground that bounced up in the air. It appeared to be headed for the goal, but Wolff was in the way and decided to redirect the ball just in case. His header was on target, but deflected first off Dynamo substitute Danny Cruz, then off the crossbar and out of play.
Three minutes later, in the 89th minute, Jewsbury failed to score from yet another open header. At the time, it appeared that it might have been Kansas City’s best chance at an equalizer. However, thanks to some injuries near the end, the official allowed for six minutes of stoppage time.
In that sixth and final minute, Wolff scored the game winner for Kansas City. Harrington yet again beat his defender on the right flank to give himself space to cross. His ball found Wolff, who blasted it home, giving Kansas City a 4-3 victory and a vital three points in the playoff race.
Wolff, Kamara, coach Peter Vermes, and the rest of the team ran over to The Cauldron and celebrated with the vocal fans, whose singing was audible on television throughout the match. The Wizards are not yet in a playoff position, but they are certainly closer now after this win.
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