Match Preview: KC Wizards vs. D.C. United

Onalfo, fired last year by KC, now faces his old team

The basics

Kansas City Wizards (0-0-0) vs. D.C. United (0-0-0) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

D.C. holds the 17-13-9 edge in all-time regular season match-ups against the Wizards.

TV info

8:30 p.m. E.S.T (Direct Kick, dcunited.com)

What's at stake?

The basics

KansasCity Wizards (0-0-0) vs. D.C. United (0-0-0) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark inKansas City, Kan.

D.C.holds the 17-13-9 edge in all-time regular season match-ups against theWizards.

TV info

8:30p.m. E.S.T (Direct Kick, dcunited.com)

What's at stake?

WithKansas City stumbling through the 2009 season, then Technical Director PeterVermes fired head coach Curt Onalfo and saw the team through the remainder ofthe season. Now the two will go head to head on opposing sidelines for the first time. Both clubs have playoffs on their mind this year after missing out ayear ago.

Last meeting

D.C. United and Kansas City faced each other to close out the 2009 season and they will meet to open their 2010 campaigns. On the final day of the 2009 campaign, and with its playoff chances hingingon collecting three points, United sputtered to a 2-2 draw with the Wizards andnarrowly missed the postseason. The Wizards equalized on a penalty kick in secondhalf stoppage time. Both sides’ rosters have drastically changed this offseason,but that doesn’t mean D.C. doesn’t remember how disappointingly last yearended.

Remember when?

Theonly postseason match-up between the two clubs came in MLS Cup 2004 at The HomeDepot Center. D.C. United, featuring 15-year-old rookie Freddy Adu and rookiehead coach Peter Nowak, came away with the 3-2 victory behind two goals fromAlecko Eskandarian. Dema Kovalenko became the first player ever sent off in MLSCup but the Wizards could not equalize against 10-man United. Since thatencounter, neither team has been back to the final.

Heroes & Villains ...

Curt Onalfo (D.C.) vs. PeterVermes (K.C.): Both managers have played down the meeting, but after workingtogether for more than two years in Kansas City, each will be eager to startthe season with three points against a former colleague. Vermes has beencritical of the team’s attitude in 2009 and made wholesale changes to thesquad to fix it.

While Onalfois familiar with the tactics it takes to succeed on the small playing surface inKansas City, Vermes wants his team to develop a true home field advantagethis year after struggling at CAB in 2009.

Bothteams fancy themselves attacking sides, and it will be interesting to see thegame plans put forth by each manager.

Jimmy Conrad (K.C.) vs. JaimeMoreno (D.C.): D.C. United’s attack revolves around the creative presence that Morenoprovides in the attacking part of the field. With five goals in three matchesat the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup, it’s safe to say the 36-year-old is in fine formentering his 15th MLS campaign.

Onthe flip side, the veteran Conrad is one of the league’s best defenders and theplayer who will most likely be tasked with stopping United’s Bolivian hitman. Itwon’t be easy. Kansas City gave up far too many goals at home last season, andMoreno’s style of play fits in well on a field on which ball movement is key.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …”

Thesetwo clubs have opened the season against one another on three previousoccasions and each match ended 3-2. D.C. United opened the 1998 and 2001seasons with 3-2 victories at RFK Stadium. On April 12, 2003, the Wizards got a3-2 OT result of their own at Arrowhead Stadium.

He said it

“He’s been with the club a long time, and he embodies a lot of thestuff we’re trying to do going forward … He’s the type of guy that’s the heartand soul of the group.” – Peter Vermes on Davy Arnaud taking over the captaincyfrom Jimmy Conrad in Kansas City.