March 14, 2009 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City
The Kansas City Wizards finished their preseason preparation Saturday night with a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Thunder of USL-1. With the win, The Wizards improved to 5-0-4 in exhibition matches, with 32 goals scored and only 11 goals against. Argentine striker Claudio Lopez starred on the night, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Kansas City begins the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) season next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT against Toronto FC at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Kansas City went 9-2-4 at home last season, including a 2-0 win against D.C. United in the season opener.
In just the 3rd minute, Lopez collected a free ball in midfield and sprung striker Herculez Gomez up the right flank. Minnesota left back Andres Arango fouled Gomez 18 yards from goal, and Lopez took the ensuing free kick. Lopez sent in a curling left-footed shot toward the back post. Thunder goalkeeper Nic Platter was screened, and the well-struck ball curled inside the far post for a 1-0 Wizards lead.
Kansas City entered halftime in front by a goal, but added three more after the break to close out the preseason on a positive note. In the 50th minute, Lopez played a ball along the ground into the penalty area, but it was deflected back to his foot. He settled the ball and played centrally to midfielder Jack Jewsbury, who slotted the ball inside the far post from the top of the area for a 2-0 Kansas City advantage.
Rookie midfielder Graham Zusi drew a penalty kick in the 66th minute after receiving a pass from substitute forward Abe Thompson inside the Minnesota 18-yard area. Lopez slotted the ensuing penalty kick home inside the left post for his 2nd goal of the night and a 3-0 Wizards margin.
Kansas City then capped the four-goal night in the 79th minute after a great combination up the right wing. Central midfielder Jack Jewsbury worked out of a tight spot with three Minnesota defenders surrounding him and played wide right for defender Jonathan Leathers. Leathers passed the ball ahead over the defense for substitute forward Michael Kraus on the right flank deep in the Minnesota half. Kraus held the ball up and played centrally for Thompson who spun and passed ahead diagonally for midfielder Roger Espinoza on the left wing. Espinoza took a quick touch and buried a hard-hit shot inside the back post from a tough angle for the final tally in a 4-0 win.
The Wizards open the season next Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT against Toronto FC at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The first 5,000 fans into the stadium will receive water bottles and schedule magnets courtesy of Providence Medical Center. Season ticket packages for Kansas City Wizards 2009 home games are still available, starting as low as $180. Contact the Wizards at (913) 387-3400 for tickets or visit www.kcwizards.com. For individual tickets, contact Ticketmaster via phone at (816) 931-3330 or online at Ticketmaster.com.