Wizards’ unbeaten streak snapped by San Jose
The Kansas City Wizards' four-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a 1-0 loss to San Jose on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski scored in the 35th minute for the game's only goal.
"I thought we had more than enough chances to at least get a point here, if not win the game," Wizards coach Peter Vermes said. "The chances we had especially around their goal, at the end of the day, we have to score, and we didn't. They got one good chance off on us and they scored. That's the way the game goes sometimes."
In a first half that saw numerous scoring chances on both ends of the field, it was the Wizards who nearly got on the scoreboard first in the ninth minute. Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury intercepted a backpass from San Jose defender Bobby Convey, but couldn’t beat Cannon with his close range shot. The rebound fell to Wizards captain Davy Arnaud who danced around two defenders and served up a second chance for Bunbury, but the rookie’s header went narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, San Jose’s Cornell Glen had his first of several attempts on goal but the danger was averted by the defensive combination of goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and center back Jimmy Conrad.
Kansas City responded with a chance in the 21st minute when creative playmaker Ryan Smith crossed for Arnaud at the back post but his header went high. Smith and Arnaud nearly connected again in the 24th minute but Arnaud was taken down just outside the penalty area. San Jose countered off the ensuing free kick and Glen dribbled the distance of the field before missing his effort wide.
Nielsen made his best save of the night in the 30th minute to turn away a near post shot from Earthquakes midfielder Arturo Alvarez. Nielsen finished the night with three saves to give him 59 on the season, third most in MLS.
The only goal Nielsen conceded came with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Khari Stephenson, a former Wizard, sent a diagonal service forward for Wondolowski to volley inside the far post. It was Stephenson’s first career MLS assist, while Wondolowski ties Kansas City striker Kei Kamara with seven goals, tied for seventh best in MLS this season.
Stephenson impressed in his first MLS match since leaving Kansas City in 2005, including a free kick off the crossbar in the 37th minute.
The Wizards pushed forward throughout the second half looking for the equalizer and it nearly paid dividends in the half’s opening minutes. Arnaud headed home a set piece in the 47th minute but the assistant referee’s offside flag was up and the goal was waived back.
Kansas City broke the San Jose trap successfully less than 10 minutes later as Kamara placed a perfect pass for Bunbury down the middle of the Earthquakes defense but Cannon again made a crucial save in the one-on-one situation.
Arnaud found himself again at the center of attention in the 70th minute with a second header into the net, but it too was ruled to be offside by the closest of margins.
The Wizards entered attacking players Graham Zusi and Josh Wolff in the 80th and 82nd minutes, respectively, and San Jose was reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute following the ejection of defender Jason Hernandez for an off-the-ball incident with Bunbury, but time ran out in the Wizards search for an equalizer.
San Jose has proven to be a particularly difficult place for Kansas City to play in recent years, with Saturday’s loss continuing a streak of 14 matches without a win in the Earthquakes' home ground. The Wizards' last victorious trip came in a 3-0 victory at Spartan Stadium in 2000.
Kansas City dropped to 5-9-5 with the loss and is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are 1-6-2 on the road this year.