KANSAS CITY -- Jose Burciaga's stunning goal after a slaloming run through the Columbus Crew defense in the 90th minute gave the Kansas City Wizards a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. The victory was the fourth in five games for the Wizards in handing the Crew their first loss of the season.
Play began evenly as each side had its share of possession and a chance within the first eight minutes. Kansas City right back Jack Jewsbury cleared a promising cross to the far post from the Crew's Joseph Ngwenya in the third minute, and the Wizards replied with an attempt from forward Yura Movsisyan after a tight give-and-go between Kerry Zavagnin and Davy Arnaud deep on the Crew's left side.
The match took a quick downturn with concern for Jimmy Conrad after a ninth-minute collision with Crew forward Ricardo Virtuoso. Virtuoso received a yellow card, and after some time on the field, Conrad was able to continue despite being struck in nearly the identical spot as he was last season when his jaw was broken by Clint Dempsey of the New England Revolution.
The 18th minute looked to provide the first score as the Wizards put together several forays around the Crew goal. The best occurred after a missed clearance by Columbus allowed Eddie Johnson to feed Arnaud, who drove to the end line, beat his defender, and played back for Johnson. The 23-year-old shot across the face of goal, but saw it cleared by Ngwenya.
After Crew midfielder Danny O'Rourke earned his side's third yellow of the half for a late foul on Kerry Zavagnin in the 30th minute, Johnson had another chance to push his team in front. With his marker tight, Movsisyan calmly laid a pass down for Johnson at the top of the box, giving him space and time. But he put his shot high and the match stayed level.
The Crew defense, sporting a 0.50 goals against average coming in, continued to repel Kansas City's attacks with plenty behind the ball and timely shot-blocking as the Wizards had most of the play the remainder of the half. As in their home opener against Toronto 10 days ago, the Wizards went into the locker room not having cashed in on their numerous chances, only testing Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum twice in their eight shots, while keeping Columbus without a single recorded attempt at goal.
After a similar start to second half, in an effort to stir the Wizards pot, Kansas City head coach Curt Onalfo inserted opportunistic forward Scott Sealy into the match for Movsisyan in the 54th minute.
Columbus head coach Sigi Schmid countered with an offensive move of his own as Argentinean midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto entered the match in the 65th minute for his MLS debut.
With 20 minutes remaining, the intensity of the first half returned. Conrad took possession of the ball and steamed forward to the edge of the area before sliding a pass to Johnson that won a corner. Conrad got on the end of the resulting service and sent a header goalward that beat Gruenebaum and was ticketed for the inside of the post, only for Ned Grabavoy to hook away the ball on the line.
The danger wasn't yet passed; Wizards midfielder Michael Harrington retrieved the clearance and served the ball back in for Johnson, but his shot went wide.
Perhaps for some return on their effective defending much of the match, the Crew were nearly gifted the match in the 84th minute. Jewsbury and Conrad waited for goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to clear a seemingly benign ball near newly-inserted Jason Garey. A surprised Hartman blasted the ball off Garey and the ball rolled ominously toward the Wizards goal, but Jewsbury scurried back and carried the danger away.
That set the stage for the dramatic strike six minutes later. Burciaga Jr., silent much of the match, ran at the Crew defense. He first cut right past one defender, then attracted two others from whom he cut left, before hitting a low drive from just outside the area that quickly bounded past Gruenebaum and sent the Wizards fans and Burciaga into a joyous celebration as it punched the right side netting.