It wasn’t three points, but Kansas City took another encouraging step Saturday night in Colorado with a 1-1 draw against the Rapids.
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Playing their third game in eight days, the Wizards dominated proceedings for 65 minutes. Davy Arnaud scored his second goal of the season, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury and Ryan Smith caused havoc in the final third and Craig Rocastle tore around the pitch putting pressure on the ball.
But unlike Wednesday in Columbus, Kansas City couldn’t quite hang on to register their second straight road victory, settling for a draw in the team’s final game before the All-Star break.
“We should have gotten the three points,” manager Peter Vermes said in a phone interview following the game. “It was there for us. We did everything to get it. We just didn’t finish off the second goal.”
Vermes’ diagnosis was indicative of a team that seems to be finding its form just in time to make a dash back into the playoff race. And despite barely falling short of a second-consecutive surprising road result, there was plenty to be happy about for the visitors, especially in the first half.
“We smothered them the first 45 minutes,” Vermes said. “Not only scoring but creating three quality, quality chances. I mean Teal hits both posts.”
Bunbury was a handful for the second game in a row, combining with Rocastle to create Arnaud’s goal and playing off Kamara and Smith to good effect as attack burst with energy, if not goals.
Interestingly enough, the Wizards could be getting even more help in the goal-scoring department as a marquee friendly against Manchester United approaches and the team recharges for the stretch run. President Robb Heineman hinted at possible acquisitions during the television broadcast, and reports have linked the team with various players in recent weeks.
But regardless of the rumors, Kansas City looked the better team for the majority of the contest against the Rapids. Vermes’ side controlled play for two-thirds of the match, but the collective effort of spending the week on the road following a disappointing result against Chivas USA eventually took its toll.
Previously shaken by the Wizards’ pressure and unable to put together a cutting attack against the visitors’ back line, Jamie Smith found a yard of space in the 74th minute and spoiled the Wizards second straight match with an early lead by slipping in Casey, who separated from Shavar Thomas and beat Jimmy Nielsen.
“I think we lost a little pressure in the middle part,” Vermes said, “and [Smith] had too much time to be able to pick out a player.”
Nevertheless, one goal won’t keep Kansas City from believing their fortunes are rising after a difficult stretch of results after defeating Columbus at home and giving the Rapids everything they could handle on Saturday.
“In these last two games, the guys came with the right mentality,” Vermes said. “I think there is a lot of continuity with the guys with the way we are playing, and I think it’s starting to reward them.”