United seek first points against stagnant Wizards
Kansas City Wizards (2-2-1) vs. D.C. United (0-5-0) at RFK Stadium
United lead all-time series 17-14-9
What's at stake?
Goals could be scarce when the league's lowest-scoring teams meet at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night, but both United and KC will be even more concerned with simply finding a way to win. After kicking off the year with a resounding 4-0 victory over D.C. and a 1-0 triumph over Colorado, the Wizards have stumbled on to a four-game winless streak in league and U.S. Open Cup play, scoring just once in the process. Meanwhile, 0-5 United’s outlook has grown more and more desperate with each passing week, and the Black-and-Red could match the league record for the worst-ever start to a season if they lose to Kansas City and Dallas this week.
When D.C. traveled to CommunityAmerica Ballpark to face the Wizards for First Kick 2010 on March 27, Curt Onalfo was eager to show off his new-look United squad and exact some revenge against the club who fired him. But those plans were ruined as Peter Vermes’ side victimized their former boss in a 4-0 romp that set the stage for the capital club’s most miserable campaign to date.
Given the season-opening trouncing and all the suffering that followed, United fans might prefer to recall a happier result against their Midwestern foes, such as the 2004 MLS Cup final. Keyed by a brace from striker Alecko Eskandarian, the Black-and-Red earned their fourth league championship with a 3-2 victory over the Wizards on a sunny November day at the Home Depot Center. Josh Wolff and Jose Burciaga, Jr. scored in a valiant, but unsuccessful, effort for K.C.
Heroes & villains
Ryan Smith vs. Clyde Simms – Kansas City’s English midfielder picked United apart in the season opener, a match that Simms started as an emergency right back before leaving the match with a strained hamstring. Simms was his team’s best player by some distance in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to New York, and he’ll have to be even more influential against Smith and the rest of the Wizards midfield.
Josh Wolff and Kei Kamara vs. Troy Perkins (or will it be Bill Hamid?) – Two goalscorers and a goalkeeper, and all have something to prove. Davy Arnaud’s red-card suspension may prompt Vermes to field Wolff at his preferred striker position instead of on the wing, while Kamara, whose stunning miss against the Galaxy last month has become a global phenomenon, needs to find the net and boost his confidence. Conversely, Perkins has labored under the weight of expectations since his return from Europe, and the buzz around RFK suggests that he may even be benched in favor of 18-year-old understudy Hamid on Wednesday.
Stat that makes you go "Hmm …"
United’s goal differential after five matches is -11. No other team in MLS can compare to that level of ineffectiveness, not even fellow strugglers Philadelphia and Toronto, who both sit at -5 in the same category.
He said it
“There is a point with certain players [at] which you have to say, ‘Maybe this is it, maybe this is what we are going to get and maybe it's not as good as we think it is.’” — United president Kevin Payne, pondering the current squad’s limitations in remarks to the Washington Post on Tuesday