The biggest Wizard weakness in 2009: goal scoring. The squad found the net just 33 times, which made them the second-worst goal-scoring outfit in the MLS.Changes were assured. The front office would infuse new blood into the attack. And that happened. Reinforcements were brought to KC in the form of a highly touted first-round draft pick with MLS lineage and one of the most popular players from one of the most populous regions of the world.So why are the projected starters the two holdovers that accounted for nearly half the goals last year?
It's likely that the names and numbers on the back of the player's jerseys won't be enough to keep you from saying, at least twice, "Wait, who is that again?"So, in an attempt to clear up any confusion and formally introduce the newest Wizards, here is The Full 90's first-annual "Meet the Wizards" position-by-position preseason breakdown. We've already taken a closer look at every position except the most problematic unit in 2009: The Strikers.
You won't be seeing...Adam Cristman
Cristman was brought in to be a target man who could link the play between the midfield and the attack. His broken foot kept him out for the first half of the year and when finally healthy didn't bring a whole lot to the table. He's now with former Wizards coach Curt Onalfo in DC. Kraus was waived to make room for the new signings.
You will be seeing...(* = projected starter) Davy Arnaud(*)
· Pronounced: ARE-no
· Number: 22
· Born: June 22, 1980
· Hometown: Nederland, TX
· Last Club: None
· Acquired: 5th round pick in 2002 MLS SuperDraft (#50 overall)
· Experience: 9th MLS seasonAfter being honored with a national team call-up for the Gold Cup, Arnaud sank into a poor run of form. The biggest culprit for this was due to his position, or should we say, his lack of position. Most of the time, he was an anonymous midfielder and, when his long-shot ability escaped him (of his 52 shots, only 17 were on goal), he stopped being useful in that role. He's guaranteed a starting job because he was just named the captain.First impressions:
Arnaud is listed as a midfielder on the media guide, but he's going to be up top. He has the tools (pace, accuracy, positioning) to be a 3/4 striker. But he isn't a target man and should never be confused for one.Fun with the media guide:
"Is currently the longest-tenured Wizard, playing in Kansas City since 2002."*These are real quotes from the 2010 Media Guide. Further reading: New captain in '10. Further watching: Top Wizards goals from 2008.
Davy's No. 9, 8 and 1 on this list. No. 1 is an all-time great.Josh Wolff(*)
· Number: 16
· Born: Feb. 25, 1977
· Hometown: Stone Mountain, GA
· Last Club: 1860 Munich (Germany)
· Acquired: Signed June 30, 2008
· Experience: 13th pro season (12th MLS)A lot of people were down on Wolff last year. (And, of course, by a lot I mean a vocal minority on BigSoccer.com.) I'm not in that camp. Wolff was the leading scorer (11) and had three game winners. He's not going to burn people with his pace anymore, but he manages to slip into voids in the defense and activate that magnet in his boot that attracts the ball to it.First impressions:
I see him getting off more shots than he did in 2009 (62) which should lead to more goals (11). Having a tall striker (like Kei Kamara or Teal Bunbury) to play off of would be a better option and I hope it won't take too long for the coaching staff to see that.Fun with the media guide:
"Has appeared 52 times for the U.S. National Team, scoring nine goals and adding five assists." He's the most capped player on the team having appeared in two World Cups (2002 and 2006).Further reading: Wiki bio. Further watching: Classic goal against Tim Howard. Kei Kamara
· Pronounced: kye kah-MAHR-ah
· Number: 23
· Born: Sept. 1, 1984
· Hometown: Lawndale, CA
· Last Club: Houston Dynamo
· Acquired: From Houston for allocation
· Experience: 5th MLS seasonKamara has the best goal celebrations on the team. Too bad the only time he got to showcase one in KC was when he was wearing a Houston Dynamo jersey on July 4th. Kamara is a tall forward with great one-on-one skills and the requisite amount of swagger to believe he can take people one-on-one.First impressions:
One of the two strikers imported in mid-season (along with Zoltan Hercegfalvi) to revive the offense has been auditioning at a new position this year: right wing. I think this was more of a move made to increase his flexibility and a challenge to prove he could make the team. He makes sense as a target man though, and I think that's where he'll wind up.Fun with the media guide:
"Has openly challenged American football star Chad Ochocinco to a field goal kicking contest via Twitter."Further watching: The man can celebrate a goal. Teal Bunbury
· Number: 9
· Born: Feb. 17, 1990
· Hometown: Prior Lake, MN
· Last Club: None
· Acquired: 1st round pick in 2010 MLS SuperDraft
· Experience: RookieBunbury was snapped up in the first round of the SuperDraft in the hopes that he'd bring a goal-scorer's touch to the attack. He's tall (6'2") and comes from an MLS lineage, his father, Alex, was a member of the Wizards in 2000. Teal is the first son of a former MLS player to make it to the league.First impressions:
In the last preseason game, he was on an island by himself as the lone striker. It's a role he's not going to master any time soon. He's much better with a poacher by his side who can benefit when he pulls a player or two toward him. With the right coaching, he could be a nice all-around forward. I believe the team will bring him along slowly this year.Fun with the media guide:
"Son of former Wizard Alex Bunbury, and shares his uniform number."Further watching: A nice pre-draft interview with MLS Insider. Sunil Chhetri
· Number: N/A
· Born: August 3, 1984
· Hometown: Delhi, India
· Last Club: Dempo SC (India)
· Acquired: Signed March 25, 2010
· Experience: 9th pro season (1st MLS)The signing of the Nepalese-born Chhetri is important for a few reasons. One: He marks the 10th international player to join the roster, making us easily the least American team in the MLS (that includes Toronto). Two: He makes the Wizards the most popular team in the world. Chhetri is only the second Indian-born player to play overseas and he's one of the most popular players in the country of a bajillion people.First impressions:
Haven't seen him play in person. Peter Vermes says: "He's a very good technical player who has a really good soccer brain on the field and connected very well with the players we have on attack." He won't join the team officially until his paperwork is processed.Fun with the media guide:
"Chhetri is widely considered to be the successor to Baichung Bhutia as the 'face' of Indian soccer. Bhutia, India's record-holder in caps and goals, is one of only two other Indian players to have played abroad after joining Bury F.C. in England for three seasons from 1999 to 2002."Further reading: His wiki bio. Further watching: Collected highlights. Zoltan Hercegfalvi
· Pronounced: Just call him Zoltan.
· Number: 20
· Born: Dec. 31, 1979
· Hometown: Budapest, Hungary
· Last Club: Honved (Hungary)
· Acquired: Signed July 28, 2009
· Experience: 13th pro season (2nd MLS)The Hungarian made a unique first impression: a straight red card. Brought on to strengthen the team last year, he had a minimal impact on the field with only 2 goals. (But he easily strengthened the team's cool-name street cred, as he wears only his first name on his kit.) He's a very physical player, unlike some of the other forwards, and is prone to fouling.First impressions:
Zoltan did most of his playing with the reserve squad this preseason and was moved into the midfield for the AC St. Louis game. I'm just going out on a limb here and putting on my best CNN hat (i.e. speculating my butt off): Zoltan could be going back to Hungary. Here's what I know: He's on too big of a contract to be relegated to the reserves, he's only here on loan, Chhetri and Kamara make him slightly expendable and the Wizards have one international too many.Fun with the media guide:
"The second Hungarian player in MLS history and the first in Wizards history."Further watching: A cheeky back-heel flip in Hungary.
Wolff wasn't the problem last year (in fact, without him, it would've been an even worse season) and Arnaud wasn't himself. So I suppose they've earned the right to start across the top. Of course, this same rule wasn't applied to any other position on the team this off-season. Kamara should be in the Starting XI. In fact, Kamara/Wolff would be my pick. Chhetri is intriguing and I can't wait to see what he can do.