Kansas City played host to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night with both teams looking to build on strong starts to the 2010 campaign. After 90 minutes of hard fought soccer the home side would come out with a 1-0 thanks to Kei Kamara's second half strike.
Colorado entered the match with a win and a draw in their first two outings while the home side opened their season with an impressive 4-0 win over D.C. United.
Kansas City opened the night fielding five across the midfield with Josh Wolff running the lone striker role. Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith provided plenty of support on the flanks with both players pressing high for most of the night. Colorado countered with the powerful striking duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, as well as the central midfield pairing of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz to try and pressure the Wizards through the middle.
The Wizards came out with a strong attacking side and looked to get things going early through the impressive Smith. The former Arsenal youth product looked dangerous down the left flank from the opening minute and seven minutes in nearly gave the home side a 1-0 lead, only to have his floated effort tipped over the bar by Colorado ‘keeper Matt Pickens.
As Colorado adjusted to the tight confines of CommunityAmerica Ballpark’s pitch the game took on a slightly more congested feel. Fouls and rough play ruled much of the first half as tempers flared and players took one hard knock after another. Four yellow cards were passed out before the break with two going to each side, but the chances were few and far between, and neither side really seemed to grab any firm control of the match.
Just before the close of the opening frame Colorado had their best chance to open the scoring with Cumming breaking down the right side. As he drove to goal it looked as though there was space for a shot, but the striker pulled it back to the penalty spot where Mehdi Ballouchy blew his shot up and over the crossbar.
Kamara opened the second half with a shot on frame for the home side inside of two minutes, but the left footed effort was straight at Pickens in the Colorado net. However, moments later Kamara would come good.
Another foul in a bad position was finally costly for the Rapids as Smith whipped in a free kick that found Kamara in the middle of the crowded box. His header seemed to catch Pickens off his line and drifted over the ‘keepers head and into the net.
Davy Arnaud almost made it 2-0 in the 53rd with an audacious attempt from range. The low strike certainly gave Pickens trouble and forced a fine save, but was eventually pushed out of trouble.
Kansas City kept pushing the pace with Smith again at the forefront of the action down the left side. In the 57th the youngster skinned two defenders before floating in a cross that found Wolff at the back post. With a tight angle for his own shot, the veteran striker opted to push his header into the path of Kamara, but the move quickly fizzled out.
While it was becoming clear that Kansas City had gained a bit of control over the match Colorado still looked dangerous at times. Colin Clark had a good look at goal in the 60th only to hit his shot directly at Jimmy Nielsen in the Kansas City goal and Cummings continued to push the pace on the rare occasions when he was able to get on the ball.
In the 69th it looked as though the Rapids had found an equalizer. Well Thompson, who had entered the match just moments before, found space in the box to unleash a shot on goal. Nielsen could only parry it back into the path of Cummings who slipped a pass to Casey. Casey finished the play off only to look over and see the assistant referee holding his flag up to signal an offside on Cummings.
The plot only got worse for the visitors in the 73rd when Julien Baudet was given his marching orders for a sloppy foul on Kamara.
Colorado looked to be in on goal again in the 79th when Casey was played in behind the backline, but a controversial offside call kept the big striker from actually having any chance to finish off the play. The flag would kill the Rapids’ last real dangerous bit of play.
Kansas City did well to kill off the final ten minutes of the match and stoppage time and the club with the worst home record in the league last season had their second home win in as many tries in 2010.