Friday, March 20, 2009

Opening Day: Kansas City Wizards vs Toronto FC



Having watched several practices so far this year, I try to compare this years Wizards to last years team. It is hard to do since this team is so different.

A smaller roster means a smaller number of players, trades, less first year guys, lots of young players from last year are now vets all add up to a much changed team from the beginning of last year. The last couple weeks of practices have been intense and each day seemed to keep building the intensity. Oobservations about the probable starters for this game.

I have never seen Wolff look so good; he has been sharp, feisty and quick. He looks like he is working well with Gomez and Lopez.

Coach has Gomez playing up top and Herculez is liking it.

Claudio has looked like Claudio. Obviously not quite the player he once was but still has moments of brilliance that are highlight quality. His free kicks and corners have looked really good in practice. Working really well with Harrington.

Arnaud and Jewsbury have been exactly what we would expect.

Zusi has looked really solid and looks capable of playing above his experience level. He has to have impressed to make Coach move Gomez up top and to keep Souter, Espinoza and Morsink off the field.

The defense has all looked pretty good, Harington looks extremely confident, Conrad is Captain Kansas City, Hohlbein has been hammering people in practice and Leathers fits in really well.

Kevin (I’m about to own all the MLS Goalie records that matter) Hartman looks as good as last year.

Those are who I expect to start barring a last minute injury. To make it easier to see:

Hartman
Leathers – Hohlbein – Conrad – Harrington
Jewsbury
Zusi – Arnaud - Lopez
Wolff
Gomez

I saw a lot of Gomez up top with Wolff playing a little below him, but expect lots of switching between Gomez Wolff, Arnaud and Lopez. A smart veteran team can make that pay off by confusing the oponent with who to watch. That can also cost you if someone does not cover your position well when you go forward, but I think that will not be a too big of a problem.

The Wizards will be hoping to take advantage of the TFC defense, the most questionable part of the Toronto team.

The rest of the bench is much harder to predict but it could be:
Pardo
Thompson
Besler
Espinoza
Marquess
Hirsig
Morsink

Could swap Watson or Kraus in for any of those except Pardo.

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