2007 Record: 11-12-7 (5th in East)
Coach: Curt Onalfo (2nd Year)
Key Players: Jimmy Conrad, Kevin Hartman, Carlos Marinelli
Key Pickups: Chance Myers (Drafted 1st Overall)
2008 Outlook: Average
Wiz fans approach the 2008 season with hesitance. Will Onalfo’s up-and-coming squad of 2007 show up again in 2008, or will KC continue to have success prove elusive? There are certainly lots of things that helped KC in 2007 that will be missing in 2008.
For starters, Eddie Johnson is gone.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Eddie was, without a doubt, the most obvious “hot and cold” player I have ever seen play soccer. When EJ was, as those who have been there say, “in the zone”, he was basically unstoppable. That sort of promise was bound to result in him making the jump across the Atlantic. Yet many were still surprised to see him so coveted by some European clubs.
Why? Well, Eddie’s Achilles’ hill was always his utter inconsistency. He would produce back-to-back hat tricks, but then he would experience a drought longer than anything seen in the West’s most arid deserts. Although he notched quite a few goals last season, he scored most of them in the season’s first dozen or so games. After that, he was pretty mediocre, despite his size, speed and skill.
Regardless though, EJ was KC’s most potent scoring threat, and losing him will hurt. In addition, KC lost some key defenders this off-season, including Burciaga and Nick Garcia. All signs actually point towards 2008 being a bit of a step backwards for the Wiz.
In order to prevent that, Carlos Marinelli will need to start to produce more on offense. The Argentine has failed to live up to his early promise thus far. Scott Sealy and Davy Arnaud also need to continue to thrive if KC is ever going to get anything going offensively.
In the net, Kevin Hartman has had a heroically long career. He played every minute of every game for the Wiz last year. He has more clean sheets than any other keeper in MLS history, and there is no reason he shouldn’t continue his journey towards the Hall of Fame with style. Of course, losing Burciaga and Garcia will hurt the defense. But the Wizards still have Jimmy Conrad, Michael Harrington, Kerry Zavagnin, Sasha Victorine to protect possession and grind out tough draws and wins.
The Wiz are a bit of an enigma, but they will need a legitmate scoring threat on offense in order to make the playoffs again in 2008. At this point, that scoring threat appears to be absent.
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