- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 17, 2008
- 2 Comments
As promised, the continuation in my team-by-team season previews leading up to the first kick later this month. Today we set our eyes to the team is the middle of the country, the Kansas City Wizards.
2007 Record and Finish: 11-12-7, 40 pts., 5th in east, 8th overall, lost in western conference semi-finals
Incoming: Chance Myers (SuperDraft), Roger Espinoza (SuperDraft), Iván Trujillo (transfer), Claudio Lopez (transfer)
Outgoing: Nick Garcia (trade with San Jose), Jose Burciaga Jr. (trade with Colorado), Eddie Johnson (transfer), Will John (transfer)
Questions Going Into 2008:
1. How will the Claudio Lopez deal work out?
Honestly, I think the Wizards did it right by signing Lopez as their designated player. He wasn’t signed to put more butts in the seats and he wasn’t signed to help drive in more Argentine people in KC. Some will question whether or not he has enough juice in the tank to really be a top goal scorer in the MLS. I think that’s kind of a tough call because even though he has lost a step in his game and overall speed he still has more skill than 90% of the league. So I think he will be fine in terms of enough juice in the tank.
Also, I think motivation will be a key factor for Lopez. He isn’t used to playing on field turf and that could change his spirits some this summer. Not to mention the fact that his club will never be in danger of being relegated can be a weird thing to get over. We’ve seen it before with newcomers to the league, they sometimes just aren’t motivated as they normally would be. If he overcomes the culture shock early on then he will be fine.
KC needs Lopez to be a 12 to 18 goal scorer to be successful. They lost their main scorer in Eddie Johnson to Fulham over the winter but Lopez should be able to fill Johnson’s shoes nicely and probably more consistently. That is the one knock on this club is consistency in scoring last year. Lopez should again be able to help that out and improve it.
2. Will Carlos Marinelli step up into the player most expect him to be this season?
This I don’t know. There was a lot of hype surrounding this kid last season coming into the year and at first we saw just how good he was but as the summer turned hotter this kid cooled off and really was a non-factor in the last third of the year.
Again, it all comes down to consistency with this club, if Marinelli plays the way he should for a full season then the Wizards will be tough to beat in the midfield. If not, they will be average at best and will have trouble finding Lopez and Scott Sealy up top, thus putting more pressure on their defense.
3. Do the Wizards have the depth for a long run in the playoffs?
Honestly I think the right answer here is a simple no. Lopez helps at striker and will being a lot of credibility to that front line but I still have too many concerns over anyone coming off that bench to make a real impact on the field. And if any injuries come up, this team will have a tough time getting through it unless some young guys step up this year. The thing that really worries me the most is their lack of depth in defense. I like Jimmy Conrad and the addition of rookie Chance Myers, but other than those two it will be interesting to see who has to switch to a defensive role this year encase of injuries or suspensions.
Point being, I think this club will have to beat teams 3-2 or 4-3 in order to win a lot of games because I see them giving up lots of goals with that defense right now.
4. Will they make their new home a real fortress?
I think it can be done. For once the Wizards will pack their home stadium and really have a loud crowd in the process. That has to be exciting for the Wizards to not see loads of empty seats in a stadium. I suspect the field to be a little small since it is on a baseball field. That means there won’t be a lot of width to the field and things will be jammed in the middle. If they control the space that they have in the middle they could make their new temporary home a tough place to play in. Something that hasn’t been seen in KC since the days of Preki.
5. Now that Eddie Johnson has left, will this club finally get over the stigma that he carried around for the last couple years?
I think losing Eddie Johnson was the best thing for both parties. KC needed to get away from him regardless this year and we all knew it was time for EJ to move across the pond. I look for KC to be a little more balanced in their attack now without EJ. Iván Trujillo is kind of a wildcard to me right now since I don’t know a lot about him, if he could work well with Lopez then KC could have a real underrated attack and surprise some folks this year.
Or could we finally see Scott Sealy step into the star striker that he has the making of being? Also I think the attacking side of things in the midfield will change now that EJ has gone and Lopez is in. Lopez will be able to control the ball better than EJ ever did, which will also free up a lot of space for everyone else.
2008 Season Outlook:
Lopez definitely adds something to this club. Before his signing I wouldn’t have even thought of predicting this club reaching the playoffs this season. Even with him in the lineup I still have my concerns. The defense and lack of depth really bother me with this club. They gave up a lot of goals last year and I see it happening again this year. Myers has to step up and be a force in the back early on for this club to have any hope at a solid defense this season. I don’t think Jimmy Conrad can do it alone back there and honestly Kevin Hartman isn’t the best keeper in the league anymore, you could easily see that last year.
As stacked as the east is it will be tough on KC to get into the playoffs. If they fail to be in that top three in the east it will be even tougher to get one of those last two wild-card spots with everyone else in the league battling out for them.
Its not that I don’t see them as a playoff squad here yet I just have my concerns on key factors that are apart of being a championship worthy team. Defense wins championships and KC has a lot of work on theirs right now. The offense will be fine and I think even the midfield will be fine but after that it will be tougher than most Wizards fans think.
If they reach the playoffs again this year it will be just like last year. The last one in.