By Kurt Austin, special KC Wizards correspondent and President, Mizzou Soccer Club
A new week equaled a new outcome for the Kansas City Wizards. Last Sunday against Colorado at home, Wizards forward Yura Movsisyan entered the game in the 81st minute with the scored tied 2-2. He then had to be replaced in the 89th minute with an ankle injury and the Wizards were unable to break the tie.
Fast forward to this Sunday at Arrowhead and once again Movsisyan’s name was called by Coach Curt Onalfo with the match level at twos, this time in the 82nd minute. But in the 89th minute, rather than begrudgingly hobbling off the field in pain like last week, Movsisyan beat two Chivas defenders on the dribble and fired a shot from the corner of the 18-yard box past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Brad Guzan. It was the first game-winner of his career and Movsisyan dropped to his knees to celebrate the late heroics.
Movsisyan, who will be featured in the next issue of MLS Magazine, was drafted by Kansas City in the first round of last year’s SuperDraft from Pasadena City College. He is the youngest player every drafted by the Wizards (18 years old) and the highest community college player ever drafted in the MLS (4th overall).
He now has five goals on the season, second best on the team and all as a second-half substitute. “You’ve got to give Yura a lot of credit,” Onalfo said. “We’ve asked him to come in and be dangerous off the bench and he’s done it consistently.”
The dramatic ending was fitting for what was a dramatic game. After conceding an early Chivas goal by Jonathan Bornstein in the 17th minute, the Wizards thought they had earned an equalizer when forward Davy Arnaud was taken down in the box and a penalty kick awarded. However, Carlos Marinelli couldn’t convert the opportunity as his finesse attempt was stopped by Guzan in the 23rd minute.
Instead, the equalizer came from an unlikely source: defensive midfielder Kerry Zavagnin. His 30-yard, left-footed blast was picture perfect as it went into the upper-90 of the Chivas net. The goal is Zavagnin’s third of the season, the most he has ever scored in his 10-year MLS career. By Monday morning, the strike had an overwhelming lead among goal-of-the-week candidates, and deservedly so.
Coming out of halftime even at one apiece, it didn’t take the boys in blue long to take their first lead. In the 53rd minute, Arnaud’s in-swinging free kick from the sideline went untouched by the goalmouth scramble and into the back of the net. But the lead was short-lived. Two minutes later Chivas responded, with halftime substitute John Cunliffe scoring his first career goal on a well-timed through ball from Sacha Kljestan.
For the next thirty minutes, Onalfo poured on the offense; first putting in forward Ryan Pore for midfielder Sasha Victorine and then Movsisyan for defender Ryan Raybould, who made his first start of the season for suspended Jose Burciaga Jr. The change to a 3-4-3 with four forwards on the field (Arnaud dropped back into the midfield) worked, culminating with Movsisyan’s magic.
“It’s frustrating giving that first one up,” Wizards defender Jack Jewsbury said. “I think that is kind of a tribute to our character coming back from one and then getting the third one late to win the game. That’s something we’ve really been searching for and we really needed the three points.”
The win keeps Kansas City in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point back of New England who they play in their next two games.
“Obviously those are two big games, kind of like a six point swing,” Jewsbury said. “We’re going in there with a lot of confidence and we always play well at New England. We’ve already got one win there this year, so we’re going in there to a get a win, not a tie.”
Notice a name missing from this recap? Wizards’ wonder boy Eddie Johnson played the full 90, but was held without a shot by the Chivas backline, snapping his four-game scoring streak. It was just the second time this season the Wizards have won without the aid of an EJ goal.