Teal Bunbury's recent good form has made him a fan-favorite in Kansas City.
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Wizards - TFC breakdown: Midseason turnaround?

Result…

1-0 victory on Saturday night against Toronto FC (6-6-5, 23 points) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark

Table position…

Fifth place in the Eastern Conference on 19 points (5-8-4) with 13 games remaining

Three things to take away…

1) Manager Peter Vermes has settled on a starting lineup ... for now.

Kansas City’s recent run of results has coincided with two additions to the starting lineup: Teal Bunbury at center forward and Craig Rocastle in the midfield. The moves relegated longtime starters Josh Wolff and Jack Jewsbury to bench roles, but the Bunbury-Rocastle combo seems to have given the team a cutting edge it had lacked since April. The Wizards have collected seven points from three league matches since the switch, and even tamed Manchester United in the process. Barring injury or further roster additions, this looks the group Vermes will lean on moving forward.

2) The playoffs are clearly within Kansas City’s grasp.

After all the doom and gloom that followed the Wizards around from May to mid-July, the team is still only four points out from the eighth and final playoff spot. With 13 games remaining, there are plenty of opportunities to make up that gap, and Kansas City seem to be finding their form at the perfect time. As Davy Arnaud said after Saturday’s game, the goal now has to be three points at home and at least one on the road. If Vermes can keep coaxing these performances from his side, that isn’t a farfetched goal.

3) The Wizards found a way to win ... if win ugly.

This wasn’t a pretty game. But it was a victory, and Kansas City will gladly take that. Apart from Bunbury’s goal, the 1-0 result resembled the dour 0-0 draw the two teams played to in early June. The ball stayed in the air for long periods, the midfield was congested and fouls were far more common than scoring chances. To the Wizards credit, they stuck in it after TFC forced them out of their comfort zone in the first half, and they stifled the Reds attack all night.

Two players who stood out…

Forward Teal Bunbury: Two game-winning goals in the past three league games should be more than enough for Bunbury to keep his starting spot. Truth be told, the rookie striker probably could have started earlier in the season, but Vermes wanted to bring him along slowly. After barely getting his header over the outstretched arms of Stefan Frei to nip Toronto, Bunbury now has 13 more games to show his stuff. 

Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen: Nielsen didn’t have much to do on Saturday, but his save on Mista toward the end of the first half may just have won him his fifth Save of the Week award. The White Puma has been magnificent this season for the Wizards, and his legend in Kansas City grows more and more with each game-saving save he makes.

One play that changed the game…

This one is a dead heat between Bunbury’s goal and Nielsen’s save. Without both, Kansas City probably don’t walk away with three points.

Final verdict…

There is still much work to do, but this was a crucial victory for Kansas City in every way. Two road results and an amazing win against Manchester United were enormous boosts to the team’s confidence, but this game simply cemented the players' belief in themselves and the direction the team is taking. Now, the challenge will be maintaining that through the rest of the season.

Next up...

Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake (10-4-4). If the Wizards can find a way to defeat RSL, the midseason turnaround the team is embarking on will officially be in full swing. Salt Lake took D.C. United to task this weekend and are the most explosive team in the league, bar none. It will take an inspired performance to replicate this weekend’s result.