PBPP: Hungry Wizards Need this One
Just three points shy of the 8th
and final playoff spot, the Kansas City Wizards will arrive at PPL Park hungry
and ready in their rematch vs Philadelphia. In their first meeting back in early June, Kansas City
knocked off the Union 2-0, on two first half goals. Philadelphia dug themselves into a hole early in that one,
giving up a goal to Kei Kamara in just the 9th minute.
The good news Saturday for
Philadelphia is that Kamara is not on the trip. The Wizards top goal scorer is on international duty with
Sierra Leone as they play a couple of matches in African Nations Cup qualifying. After Kamara’s eight goals, the next top scorer on Kansas City’s team is midfielder Davy Arnaud,
KC is a tough team to figure
out. They lead MLS in shots on
goal, but are tied for 14th in goals scored. They often play an entertaining style
of soccer in a 4-3-3 formation with winger Ryan Smith very dangerous up high on
either flank. Defensively, the
veteran central defender Jimmy Conrad is their anchor, in front of Danish
goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen who has had a terrific first season in MLS, with eight shutouts and a 1.10 goals against average.
The Wizards, under Head Coach
Peter Vermes, have won two straight, outscoring their opponents 6-1. They are 3-1-1 in their last five.
One player to watch for is
number nine Teal Bunbury. The rookie
out of the University of Akron is a dangerous player possessing speed, skill,
and confidence. He won the MAC Hermann Trophy last year as the best player in college soccer. Still, he was picked number four overall,
while the Union’s Danny Mwanga was the overall top pick.
We mentioned in an earlier
column that Mwanga could one day end up on the USA National Team, and the same
could be said for Bunbury. Like
Mwanga, Bunbury will have a choice, as his father is a former Canadian
international. Canada really wants
to get Bunbury in their uniform, but so far Bunbury has avoided that call and
has stayed neutral when the question of USA or Canada comes up. He may have to make a decision sooner,
rather than later.
As for the Union, can they
take some confidence into Saturday’s game after their last two good
results? The comeback win vs New
England was a character building victory, followed up by Wednesday’s win vs
Chivas of Guadalajara. The best
thing about the win vs Chivas was that it
was without Sebastien Le Toux and Alejandro Moreno, who were resting minor bumps
and bruises. Philadelphia hopes that both
are ready to go Saturday.
What kind of role will Roger
Torres, Justin Mapp, and Jack McInerney play in this one, following their
performance in the last two games?
We’ll find out Saturday.