The Full 90

Wizards play reigning MLS champs Real Salt Lake to a 1-1 draw

The Wizards continued their late-season push to earn a spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs Saturday night against reigning league champion Real Salt Lake at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

And the Wizards got off to a promising start, controlling the first 30 minutes of play and taking a one-goal lead in the 21st minute.

Fresh off wins at Columbus and versus Toronto FC sandwiched around a draw at Colorado, a stretch that also included a stunning upset against international power Manchester United in a friendly, Kansas City couldn't make that goal stand up but did improve to 2-0-2 in its last four MLS games.

Considering that RSL, 10-4-5, entered the game in second place in the Western Division, the 1-1 draw — though not the desired result in a home contest — could hardly be called disappointing.

During the game's opening stretch, captain Davy Arnaud scraped a free ball in front of the net with his toe, but couldn't get it around Nick Rimando in the ninth minute for Kansas City's first golden goal-scoring opportunity.

Barely nine minutes later, Roger Espinoza delivered a beautiful cross to the backpost for Kei Kamara, whose header sailed wide by a few feet.

But in the 21st minute, Kamara got another chance and made it count.

Midfielder Ryan Smith, who started despite a hamstring injury, lofted a right-footed cross to the near post this time, which Kamara tucked into the upper left corner of the net.

The perfectly placed goal, Kamara's seventh of the season, went to Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando's short side, but the 31-year-old keeper never had a chance.

The second half produced few memorable moments after Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen stonewalled RSL's Javier Morales from point-blank range in the 49th minute to preserve the 1-1 score.

Chances for both sides were far and far between, until the home crowd briefly reached a fever pitch in the 86th minute when rookie Teal Bunbury buried a shot in the Real Salt Lake net, but he was ruled offside and the goal disallowed.

Real Salt Lake crushed Kansas City 4-1 in a May 29 meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.

  Comments