With two goals in second-half stoppage time, the Kansas City Wizards came roaring to claim a vital three points, defeating the Columbus Crew 3-2 on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, their first win in four games.
Scott Sealy's second goal of the game, four minutes deep into added time, gave the Wizards the victory after an Eddie Johnson penalty kick barely a minute before pulled the match level. Sealy's artistic free kick in the 31st minute served only to inspire a frantic Crew revolt in the second stanza as they took the lead with goals from Alejandro Moreno and Andy Herron, before the late heroics.
The late comeback, just the third time in MLS history a team had come from behind after trailing at the 90-minute mark with the winning goals in stoppage time, gave the Wizards 36 points on the season and in good position to hold their place in the postseason race. But for the Crew, who saw their winless streak reach seven games, remain outside the top eight.
The Crew came into the match stricken by the yellow card suspensions of key midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto and sparkplug right back Frankie Hejduk and a hamstring strain to defender Rusty Pierce. Tim Ward, making only his third appearance of the season, filled in on the Crew back line and forward Jason Garey and midfielder Ned Grabavoy were added to the starting XI.
Currently in the playoff zone but needing points just as much their guests, the mostly healthy Wizards had the opposite problem of having to make decisions regarding who must sit. Midfielders Sasha Victorine and Michael Harrington were the odd men out with Harrington dealing with an illness. Playmaker Carlos Marinelli and rookie Kurt Morsink took their spots respectively.
The Crew came close to taking the lead in the sixth minute. Taking a restart after being fouled by K.C. midfielder Kerry Zavagnin, Grabavoy sent a pacy cross into the Wizards box for midfielder Jacob Thomas, whose header skirted the outside of Kevin Hartman's far post.
Kansas City started to have the edge in play as the half neared its midway point, despite a potent counterattack displayed by the visitors. The home side should have grabbed the lead in the 22nd minute through a continuance of their early insightful passing. In close quarters on right corner of the Crew box, Sealy played wide for Arnaud who sent in a one-touch low cross low for Johnson running right at goal. Johnson hit first-time, only to send his shot right at a relieved Hesmer, who only had to hold on for the save.
The Crew hit the post in the 27th minute after a blocked shot was pounced on by forward Garey, a moment that would be looked back on four minutes later when the Wizards gained the much sought after first goal.
Columbus defender Ezra Hendrickson fouled Sealy in the 31st minute, eight yards out from the left corner of the Crew's box, giving Kansas City a dangerous free kick. Jose Burciaga Jr. started to release his powerful left boot but Sealy completed the deception by striking a curling right-footed shot that eluded Hesmer's extended leap into the upper right corner. The classy strike was Sealy's third of the season, and it held to halftime.
After two Wizards free kicks tested Hesmer in the first four minutes of the second half, Thomas threatened twice within the 50th and 52nd minutes. The first saw the Texas native, playing in only his sixth match of the season, fire point blank at Hartman from a deep angle on the left. Hartman went high at the near post to punch away the well-struck ball. Nick Garcia played spoiler on the second blocking Thomas' shot at the last second as he came in on the right.
The Crew kept the pressure on the Wizards through Moreno and midfielder Eddie Gaven in the 57th minute. Gaven fed wide left to Moreno as they approached the box. Moreno returned service high for Gaven who rose up for the header only to put the attempt over the bar.
The Wizards were giving up possession frequently in their own end and would pay the price twice in three minutes' time. Midfielder Danny O'Rourke played in a cross that found Gaven in the box. He headed down a ball that Hartman kept out, but Moreno was first to the rebound and put into the net to tie the match.
The goal further enhanced the Crew's spirit and they found the net again two minutes later, this time off a corner. Gaven sent in the corner to the top of the box, even with the far post. While falling to his knees, Crew back Marcus Gonzalez headed across the goal to the far post, finding the recently inserted Andy Herron, who tapped in to give the Crew the lead.
The sides traded chances as time began to betray the once secure Wizards and befriend the Crew. Losing a lead at all, let alone so quickly, was surely not what the Wizards wanted, but it was what the desperate Crew needed.
Into four minutes of stoppage time the match went, and perhaps into Wizards lore it came. In the far side of the Crew box, Wizards captain Jimmy Conrad won a head ball sending the ball back to an onrushing Kerry Zavagnin. The midfielder took a touch and was run into by Crew substitute Stefani Migloranzi.
Referee Andrew Chapin pointed to the spot and the Wizards had life. Johnson hit the ensuing spot kick off the inside of the left post to restore some pride and the chance for at least a point, and the chance for a miracle.
Soon thereafter, the Wizards were in full flight. Johnson played wide for substitute Eloy Colombano who struck a perfect cross for Sealy running to the near post. Sealy beat his marker and drove the ball inside the near post to just escape Hesmer's reach and send the Wizards and their fans into hysteria, and a step closer to clinching a playoff berth that has eluded the club for two years.
Columbus Crew (6-9-10) vs. Kansas City Wizards (10-9-6)
September 15, 2007 -- Arrowhead Stadium
KC -- Scott Sealy 3 (unassisted) 31
CLB -- Alejandro Moreno 5 (unassisted) 65
CLB -- Andy Herron 4 (Marcos Gonzalez 1, Eddie Gaven 3) 67
KC -- Eddie Johnson 15 (penalty kick) 93+
KC -- Scott Sealy 4 (Eloy Colombano 1, Eddie Johnson 5) 94+
Columbus Crew -- Will Hesmer, Ezra Hendrickson, Marcos Gonzalez, Tim Ward, Eddie Gaven, Ned Grabavoy, Danny O'Rourke, Duncan Oughton, Jacob Thomas (Andy Herron 65), Jason Garey (Stefani Miglioranzi 84), Alejandro Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Andy Gruenebaum, Kei Kamara, Andrew Peterson, Robbie Rogers, Ricardo Virtuoso
Kansas City Wizards -- Kevin Hartman, Jack Jewsbury (Eloy Colombano 77), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Davy Arnaud, Carlos Marinelli, Kerry Zavagnin, Kurt Morsink (Sasha Victorine 66), Scott Sealy, Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Ryan Pore, Ryan Raybould, Tyson Wahl, Lance Watson
|Kansas City Wizards||Columbus Crew|
|Total Shots:||19 (Scott Sealy 5)||18 (Eddie Gaven 4, Ned Grabavoy 4)|
|Shots on Goal:||12 (Scott Sealy 4)||8 (3 tied with 2)|
|Fouls:||10 (Carlos Marinelli 4)||20 (Duncan Oughton 4)|
|Offsides:||7 (Scott Sealy 5)||3 (Alejandro Moreno 2)|
|Corner Kicks:||4 (Davy Arnaud 2, Carlos Marinelli 2)||6 (Eddie Gaven 6)|
|Saves:||6 (Kevin Hartman 6)||9 (Will Hesmer 9)|
CLB -- Eddie Gaven (caution; Pushing, Holding) 36
KC -- Kurt Morsink (caution; Pushing, Holding) 45
CLB -- Marcos Gonzalez (caution; Dissent) 48
CLB -- Duncan Oughton (caution; Tackle from Behind) 72
CLB -- Will Hesmer (caution; Delaying a Restart) 87
Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee's Assistants: Jose Corro; George Vergara
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Cloudy -and- 59 degrees