Wizards thrash Revolution, 4-1
The Kansas City Wizards put together one of their best performances of the season on Saturday in a 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution in front of a capacity crowd of 10,385 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Surprise starter Birahim Diop was the man of the match for Kansas City, recording two first-half goals and later an assist in his first start in the league since 2002. Diop’s goals were the first of his MLS career. Kei Kamara contributed assists on both of Diop goals before scoring his team-leading eighth of the season in the 65th minute, and Jack Jewsbury finished the rout with a goal of his own four minutes later.
The two sides exchanged scoring chances in the match’s opening minutes, an early indicator of the scoring spree to come. New England’s Kenny Mansally tried a first-time shot off a cross from the right side, but his sliding attempt at the near post deflected out for a corner in the second minute of the match.
Kansas City midfielder Ryan Smith responded one minute later, receiving a pass from fellow Englishman Craig Rocastle on the left side and working his way into a dangerous position, but his shot from inside the penalty area was nicely stopped by Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis for his first of six saves on the night.
Diop rewarded Kansas City on his introduction to the starting lineup in dramatic fashion in the 16th minute, after Rocastle began the play with a simple square pass to Kei Kamara on the touchline near midfield. Kamara’s first touch was a softly weighted chip to Diop, whose well-timed run beat the Revolution offside trap and brought the sell-out crowd to its feet as he dribbled in alone on Reis. The 31-year-old Senegalese forward calmly tucked his shot inside the near post to give the Wizards a 1-0 lead and open his team’s offensive outburst.
Just over 10 minutes later, Diop doubled his tally off of another assist from Kamara. Michael Harrington’s throw-in went to Kamara at the edge of the penalty area and the Sierra Leone native held off his defender to serve a cross toward the backpost. Diop outjumped New England defender Kevin Alston and powered his header off Reis’ hand and into the net. The goal gave Diop, a late-week replacement for the suspended Teal Bunbury, the rare distinction of scoring his first two career MLS goals on his first two career shots on goal.
New England cut the Wizards' lead in half in the 37th minute on a goal by Kenny Mansally, his third of the season. Revolution midfielder Khano Smith provided the service from the left side, finding the feet of Mansally in the middle of the penalty area. Mansally’s shot deflected off Jimmy Conrad from 15 yards out and Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was left helpless to keep the redirection out.
Kansas City continued to attack throughout the second half, capitalizing on opportunities to push forward en route to an eventual 10-2 advantage in shots on goal. The offensive pressure paid off in the 65th minute, with Smith feeding the ball to Diop on the right sideline. Diop delivered a perfectly-placed pass that bent behind the Revolution backline and connected with Kamara, who directed his left-footed shot past Reis from close range.
The goal gives Kamara eight on the season, which is a new career high and ties him for fifth best in MLS. Kamara’s two assists, both of which he earned earlier in the night, also tie his single-game career high. Smith was credited with his eighth assist on the goal, also tied for fifth most in the league this year.
The Wizards' final goal came from Jewsbury in the 69th minute.
The win moves the Wizards up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point shy of Chicago and three points back of Toronto FC with 10 games still to play in the regular season.
Following the win, Kansas City is now just five points out of the final playoff position.
KC next plays at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at Los Angeles.